What you say in your will or other estate plans attests to what was meaningful to you during your lifetime. Through your advance planning, you have the opportunity to leave such a legacy as a role model to your children, grandchildren and others.
A legacy gift through a bequest in your will or other planned gift is a way to offer thanks to God for the gifts and blessings given to you, to affirm the value you attach to your faith community, and to provide for the Cathedral’s future mission, ministries, or facilities.
In the absence of a will, the Probate Court will decide how to distribute your assets. To be certain that your wishes are carried out, it’s important that you make a will or other estate plan, and update it every five years or whenever your life situation changes significantly (e.g., move to another state, have a new child or grandchild, divorce or remarry).
Legacy gifts may be directed to either Saint Mark’s Cathedral (for unrestricted or programmatic purposes) or to the Cathedral Foundation of the Diocese of Olympia (if they are intended to support the Cathedral’s buildings and grounds).
Bequests through your will are the most common form of legacy gift. You may specify a dollar amount, a piece of property, or a percentage or the residual of your estate to the Cathedral or the Foundation. The wording of a bequest provision will vary depending upon the type of gift you wish to make and whether your gift is restricted to a specific purpose. Examples of appropriate language are found on the accompanying pages. In all cases, you should consult with a qualified attorney who can review your goals in light of applicable federal and state laws and draft your will to reflect your specific wishes.
Beneficiary designations. Some parts of your estate can pass directly to a recipient outside of probate, simply by designating the beneficiary. You can name the Cathedral or the Foundation as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, pension, retirement fund, commercial annuity contract, bank account, or brokerage account. When you set up or modify your will, talk with your attorney about possible tax benefits from these arrangements.
Planned giving. Legacy gifts also include making current gifts (such as charitable gift annuities or trusts) that can provide donors with current tax benefits, pay income to donors during their lifetimes, and leave the remainder to the Cathedral or the Foundation. You can learn more about such life income gifts or set up such a fund through the Diocese of Olympia Stewardship Office or the Episcopal Church Foundation, banks, community foundations, or other donor-advised funds.(See resources below.)
The Cathedral and the Foundation both honor the donor’s expressed intent. In the absence of expressed donor intent, however, the Cathedral Vestry or the Foundation board may direct the use of the funds as they determine. During a capital campaign, the Vestry may direct realized bequests it receives during the campaign toward capital projects. At other times, realized bequests may be added to the general endowment, from which a portion is allocated annually toward the annual budget.
The Foundation Board’s policy is to direct all unrestricted, realized bequests to capital projects or reserves for use by the Cathedral, or to the Foundation’s Buildings and Grounds Endowment Fund, from which a portion is allocated annually toward the Cathedral’s maintenance budget.
Whether you donate to the Cathedral or the Foundation, you will be continuing your stewardship of Saint Mark’s and helping to assure the long-term financial health of the Cathedral.
At your request, a planned giving specialist from the diocesan office can meet with you individually to discuss your personal situation and wishes, and recommend the types of legacy gifts that may be best for you to consider. Because some planned gifts can be technical and each person’s circumstances are different, it is best to consult with your own financial advisor and legal counsel as well.