Planned giving and estate planning are not just terms, but part of a person’s life that often speaks to who they are. More and more people have a strong desire to leave a legacy that not only says “I’ve been here,” but more importantly, “this is where my heart is.”

Planned giving, in simple terms, is a way for people to express their passion and kindness by setting aside a portion of their estate for charitable causes that they truly believe in.

Donations made through trusts and estate planning can many times determine the survival of a vital ministry, and allow that ministry to continue to touch the lives of countless people long after they’re gone. At the Union Gospel Mission we are committed to the work of Christ, to relieving the suffering of the homeless and our concern is that the gifts bestowed upon this ministry be honoring to the memory of the donor and the glory of God’s kingdom.

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Over the years, Bill has made quite a good living. After retiring, he started to think about what to do with his money. He and his wife had always been frugal, and they had more than enough money for their golden years.

He had a growing IRA that was already larger than he needed it to be, and he didn’t want to continue taking forced disbursements and paying taxes.

One morning, Bill was talking with some old friends about his problem. One of them mentioned a new law, the Pension Protection Act of 2006. The new law allows people over the age of 70 1/2 years to give as much as $100,000 directly from their IRAs to qualified charities. Bill and his wife had always supported Union Gospel Mission, and Bill saw his chance to do even more.

After discussing it with his wife, Bill decided to roll the money over from the IRA to the mission. The charitable distribution would be excluded from their income and, while they wouldn’t receive a tax deduction, they would eliminate forced withdrawals and the taxes on those sums. The $100,000 would go directly to helping the homeless, without ever being taxed.

It’s a great loophole for Bill, and a great blessing for UGM.

Zack and Terri were a happy, successful couple with a number of real estate investments in the Sacramento area. Their kids were grown up, and they were ready to spend more time with each other and less time managing their properties.

One night, Zack suggested that they sell one of their holdings and realize a substantial profit–$1 million. The idea seemed like a good one.

The property was in need of renovation and tenants were hard to come by. But there was one major obstacle. Capital gains taxes on the sale would eat away a substantial portion of the profits.

Not long after that, Zack joined the development officer for the Union Gospel Mission for lunch. The couple had supported UGM generously in the past, and Zack wanted to discuss his plans for the upcoming year. Over lunch, he mentioned that he had a property he wanted to sell, but was concerned about the capital gains tax.

Sam suggested that Zack consider selling the property through a charitable remainder trust. By setting up a trust, Zack and Terri could donate the building to the trust. Since Zack and Terri could act as trustees, they would still be able to exercise control over the property and sell it. Since the trust would be a charity, it could defer the capital gains tax. The couple would also benefit from a large tax deduction for their generous gift.

After the sale, the trust would invest the full $1 million in a diversified portfolio that paid an annuity every year for the rest of Zack and Terri’s lives. And, upon their death, the investments in the trust would go to Union Gospel Mission, helping it to continue its ministry.

After consulting with their attorney and financial planner, Zack and Terri went ahead with the plan. The income from the trust is greater than the income from rents on the building, and both can take pride in their efforts to help others.

Sarah Smith’s life took on a new importance and assurance when she made a planned gift to the Union Gospel Mission.

One night, while enjoying a cup of hot tea, Sarah thought about how she wanted to provide for her son, Jim, his wife Linda and their two children.

She had been blessed financially, and wanted to provide adequately for her children and grandchildren, but also help those less fortunate than herself.

She had volunteered at the Union Gospel Mission, and thought that the Mission and her church would both be worthy beneficiaries.

After prayer and consideration, Sarah contacted the Union Gospel Mission and asked for guidance.

She met with the Mission’s financial advisor, and told him of her desire to care for her family, her church and the works of UGM. He suggested that she consider using a will or a living trust to ensure her money went where she wanted it to, and gave her the name of an attorney who specialized in estate planning.

He also recommended that she discuss her plan with her pastor and her financial advisors before taking any final steps. Together, Sara and her attorney prepared a plan that would provide her son’s family with funding for college educations and other opportunities; her church received 10 percent of her estate and the Union Gospel Mission received a generous gift that help it reclaim more lives from the streets.

With her plan in place, Sarah could relax, secure in the knowledge that her wishes would be followed. Sarah still reviews her plan from time to time, but she knows she has made life better for her immediate family and for the larger family of God.