Wills and Estates: Planning and Executing a Will

In addition to being a convenient way to distribute your estate, a Will is one of the most important documents you will execute during your life. A Will can be a personal expression through which you provide for those people and institutions that are important to you. A Will is your final message that reflects your personal values and leaves a lasting legacy by which your family and community will remember you.


Planning Your Will or Estate

Legal documents such as Wills should always be prepared by attorneys. You will find different rules in every state for execution of a Will. However, the following are typical requirements in making a Will:

  • The Will should be in writing and signed at the end by the person executing the Will, called a testator (man) or testatrix (woman). The testator or testatrix must sign the Will in the presence of two or three disinterested witnesses.
  • The testator or testatrix must have each witness sign his name affirming that the Will was signed by the testator (ix) and acknowledged, as a last Will and testament.
  • The person executing the Will must be considered mentally competent when the Will is executed.
  • Here is some suggested wording that will help you and your financial advisor include The Salvation Army in your Will:  I do give, devise and bequeath to The Salvation Army, a charitable organization with principal offices at 440 West Nyack Road, West Nyack, NY, 10994, the sum of, $___________ for use in operating programs in Summit County, Ohio.



Please contact Mike Freeman, Estate and Planned Gifts Director, at (216) 623-7476 or email at Michael.Freeman@use.SalvationArmy.org.

Different Ways to Plan & Definitions

Planned Gifts: A planned gift is arranged by you legally during your lifetime. The principal benefits accrue to The Salvation Army at a later time, after your death or the death of your last named beneficiary. Planned gifts take many forms, providing additional income for you and/or your heirs, reducing income and estate taxes, relieving you and your heirs of complicated financial management responsibilities and helping to fulfill your personal, humanitarian and charitable objectives. Planned gifts can be made in cash, real estate, stocks, bonds, personal property or life insurance.

Bequests by Will: One of the simplest planned gifts is a bequest through your will in which you designate either a specific dollar amount or a percentage of your estate after other disbursements. In addition to supporting The Salvation Army, it serves as an example to your heirs of the values and ideals you hold dear. A bequest also can reduce the amount of your taxable estate, which may increase the actual amount available to loved ones.

Gift Annuity: A gift annuity is an agreement between you and The Salvation Army. In exchange for your irrevocable gift, The Salvation Army pays a fixed dollar amount during your life and/or the life of a designated loved one. The amount you receive is determined by the size of your gift, your age and the age of your beneficiary. Your payments are guaranteed, regardless of market fluctuation. A major portion is a tax-exempt return of principal and the payments may be deferred until a later time as part of your retirement plan.


Charitable Remainder Trust: A charitable trust transfers ownership and management of cash and/or appreciated securities to The Salvation Army. The Army manages the trust and pays income to you for the remainder of your life and/or the life of another beneficiary. An annuity trust provides a fixed annual amount for those wanting consistent, predictable payments. A unitrust pays a variable return based on market changes, providing an effective hedge against inflation.

Life Insurance: Contributions of life insurance can provide a substantial gift to The Salvation Army. The value of an ordinary policy at the time of the gift is tax deductible. If you continue paying the premiums, they also are deductible as charitable contributions. If a paid-up policy is given, the cost of purchasing a new paid-up policy at your current age is the value of the charitable deduction.

Hometown Endowment: A hometown endowment is a perpetual gift that can be designated for a specific Salvation Army location or program. The original gift remains intact, and the income is used toward the designated area of service. An endowment can be established in memory of a loved one or a donation can be added to an existing fund that will contribute to your local community indefinitely.