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Leave a Legacy

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We work to ensure that terminally ill Americans can die on their own terms with peace of mind. Your generosity and foresight make this possible.

Death with Dignity has a longstanding record of managing donations diligently and strategically to ensure your gift has a lasting impact. Together, we can explore how you can create a planned giving strategy that meets your financial priorities, honors your personal values, and reflects your philanthropic vision.

Create a legacy that reflects your personal values while achieving your financial and philanthropic goals.

The Dignity Circle

The Dignity Circle honors those who have included Death with Dignity National Center in their estate plans.

What will your legacy be?

  • expanding the freedom of Americans with a terminal illness to make their end-of-life decisions;
  • promoting assisted dying laws around the United States;
  • bringing peace of mind to future generations.

Dignity Circle members also receive special invitations to webcasts with movement leaders, advocacy updates, and our newsletters and annual reports.

Learn more about the Dignity Circle ›

Options for a Legacy Gift

Bequeathing to Death with Dignity by Will or Trust

Including Death with Dignity in Your Will

A will directs how your assets will be distributed upon your death. Your will ensures that your legacy reflects what’s important to you, including the people, causes, and charities you care about the most.

You can give to Death with Dignity in your will in several ways:

  • a percentage of your estate,
  • a specific dollar amount,
  • a defined asset, or
  • a remainder of other bequests.

It can be as simple as including language like this:

I give, devise, and bequeath to the Death with Dignity National Center, _________ percent of my estate or the sum of $ _________________ (or stocks, bonds, property, or other assets) to be used for promoting Death with Dignity policy reform throughout the United States.

Are you ready to leave a legacy to Death with Dignity? If so, please download and complete our Bequest Intention Form and mail it, attention to Leadership Giving Manager, Death with Dignity, 520 SW 6th Avenue #1220, Portland, OR 97204

Including Death with Dignity in Your Living Trust

A living trust is a popular estate planning tool because it can avoid the hassle and expense of probate (unlike a stand-alone will) and offers greater flexibility. Assets are placed into a living trust during your lifetime and a trust document governs how those assets are distributed after your death, either immediately or at a certain time in the future. Trusts typically offer greater flexibility, privacy, and control over your assets and how they are managed and passed onto heirs and charities.

A living trust typically entails some greater planning and cost to set up, but results in a simpler, clearer, and less costly process for your loved ones after your death.

I strongly believe that if a person who is dying wants to end their life, they should be able to do so. The government should stay out of this personal decision. I set up a bequest in a living trust with funds going to my family, friends, and favorite charities, including Death with Dignity.

—Frank Nussbaum, Chicago, Illinois

Giving from IRAs

Naming Death with Dignity as a pay-on-death beneficiary of your traditional Individual Retirement Account (or another bank account) is one of the easiest ways to make a charitable gift at death that avoids probate. You may be able to request the form for changing beneficiaries online or simply call your agent to prepare and mail one to you.

Assets within traditional IRAs can be subject to final federal income tax (as “income in respect of the decedent”) as well as estate tax. If donated to a charity by way of beneficiary designation, IRA assets can be a tax-free gift to charity.

Giving from a Life Insurance Policy

Naming Death with Dignity as a direct or contingent beneficiary of your life insurance policy is an easy way to make a lasting impact all while possibly avoiding probate. Simply contact your agent to designate a percentage or dollar amount of your life insurance to Death with Dignity. Your agent will prepare paperwork for you to sign and return.

Giving with Charitable Trusts

There are many options for charitable trusts that can be set up to your advantage. Establishing a trust with Death with Dignity as the beneficiary ensures that your legacy continues long into the future. Your generosity and foresight allows Death with Dignity to grow the movement and expand end-of-life choice.

A trust can give you control over how your assets are managed while also generating income for yourself and your loved ones. There are several different types of trusts, each with specific criteria and benefits to you and/or your heirs.

Charitable Remainder Trust

You can donate assets to an irrevocable charitable trust that will pay you or your loved ones for life or a defined time period up to twenty years. The remaining assets in the trust will eventually become a gift to Death with Dignity. It can be funded with cash, appreciated real estate or securities, or other non-cash assets. You can select the number of beneficiaries and income payment you deem appropriate, as well as the frequency of the payments: quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.

This option comes with significant tax benefits, including a partial federal income tax charitable deduction and favorable capital gains tax treatment if funded with appreciated assets.

Charitable Remainder Unitrust

With a charitable remainder unitrust, your assets are revalued annually and you receive a fixed percentage of the asset balance. You have the opportunity to make additional charitable contributions to the trust at any time.

Charitable Lead Trust

A charitable lead trust allows you to designate Death with Dignity as the “lead” beneficiary of your assets. Once a trust is established, Death with Dignity will receive annual payments from the trust for a set number of years. When the trust terminates, the remaining assets will be distributed to you or other beneficiaries at a reduced tax rate or tax-free.

Giving with a Charitable Gift Annuity

A charitable gift annuity allows you to make a future gift to Death with Dignity in exchange for lifetime financial benefits.

By establishing a charitable gift annuity through the foundation of your choice, you are creating a contract with a foundation in which you donate cash or other assets to charities of your choice and, in turn, receive an immediate charitable tax deduction and a fixed annual payment for life.

If you would like to explore a charitable gift annuity, start by contacting your favorite community foundation in your state. We can help you identify one, if you would like assistance.

Donor Story: Martin & Bodil Gerotwol

Martin and Bodil Gerotwol worked with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to create a charitable gift annuity to benefit Death with Dignity. They then enjoyed a set amount of income automatically sent to them from the annuity.

When Martin and Bodil died, 60% of the remainder was gifted outright to Death with Dignity and the remaining 40% was placed in a nonprofit endowment fund at the foundation, which will support Death with Dignity in perpetuity.

Giving with Donor Advised Funds

We can help you establish a donor advised fund that aligns with your philanthropic vision and helps you avoid significant tax burden. Working with an advisor at a foundation of your choosing, you can set up a fund and contribute stocks, bonds, and other personal assets, receiving the maximum tax deduction the IRS allows. Your irrevocable contributions will be invested, and you will have the opportunity to identify and fund initiatives at Death with Dignity that reflect your priorities.

Donor Story: Joyce Axelrod

Joyce Axelrod created a donor advised fund at the San Diego Jewish Community Foundation that now makes grants to Death with Dignity. Upon her death, Joyce has instructed that the remainder of her advised fund be distributed to Death with Dignity and other charities.

I believe that people should have the option to die without pain and suffering. I set up a fund through a local community foundation to support this important work. You don’t need to be wealthy to leave a gift in your estate.

—Joyce Axelrod, San Diego, California


Downloadable Materials

Third-Party Resources

Information You Will Need

Organization Name: Death with Dignity National Center
Address: 520 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 1220, Portland, Oregon 97204
Phone number: (503) 228-4415
Tax ID: 93-1162366

The information on this site is not intended to provide specific advice about your estate plan or to recommend a specific course of action. We suggest you consult your professional advisers before taking any action.