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DONATE—BEQUESTS AND WILLS

How To Name the Red Cross in Your Will

To include a gift to the American Red Cross Bay Area in your will or trust, please designate a specific amount or percentage to the "American Red Cross Bay Area." Your gift will be used to prepare for, prevent and respond to disasters and emergencies in the Bay Area. Also, Red Cross Bay Area volunteers are sent throughout North America to help victims of disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.

How to Create Your Will

A will or a living trust should be drafted by an attorney knowledgeable in estate planning and the laws of the state in which you reside. Attorneys do charge for their services, but a properly drafted will can save your heirs time, taxes, unnecessary fees and possible heartache.

You should prepare for your meeting with your attorney. Draft a list of all your assets, including bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement and insurance plans, real estate and valuables. You should also make a list of the people and charities that you would like these assets to go to after your lifetime.

How to Update Your Will

If you already have a will, but your circumstances have changed—births, deaths, new or lost friendships, changes in the law or your desire to add a charity as a beneficiary of your estate—then you need to update your will. Some people think you can write in your own changes on your current will. This is risky and may invite a will contest and costly litigation for your heirs. See your attorney for assistance.

What Is a Codicil?

A codicil is an amendment to your will which can add to, take from or alter the terms of your will. It is a legal document and must be signed with the same formalities as a will, including the required number of witnesses. Unless the changes you want to make are lengthy or complicated, a codicil is significantly less costly than drafting a new will. Also, your attorney may be aware of a particular provision in your old will that has an advantage protected by law which would be lost if you executed a new will.

Caution: Clearly a new will is preferable when you want to make numerous changes, and a new will does avoid confusion. If you do create a new will, have your attorney keep the originals of all old, out-of-date wills to be sure they remain secure.

Advantages of a Codicil

A codicil makes sense for a simple change, such as the addition of a charitable bequest. In some cases, speed in preparation and execution may be important and a codicil usually is quicker to prepare than a new will.

If you worry about anyone questioning your capacity to make a new will, a codicil is advantageous. If someone later claims that you were incompetent and the codicil is not admitted to probate, your original will is still valid. To ensure that changes in your will by codicil will have the intended legal effect, be sure to consult your attorney.

Five Good Reasons To Include the American Red Cross Bay Area in Your Will

  1. The American Red Cross Bay Area responds to an average of two residential fires a day in the Bay Area. Red Cross volunteers provide victims with food, clothing and temporary shelter. Volunteers also provide counseling to victims to help them find new housing and cope with their loss.
  2. Volunteers from the Bay Area are sent to help victims of every major disaster in North America.
  3. The Red Cross is keeping families safe. Last year our chapter trained over 77,000 local residents in lifesaving techniques, including First Aid, CPR, Water Safety, Baby-sitting and other programs.
  4. The Red Cross is preparing our community for future disasters. Last year we trained over 14,000 people and 80 agencies to prepare for natural and human-caused disasters.
  5. The American Red Cross Bay Area: Together, we can save a life.

Before making a gift to the American Red Cross Bay Area in your will or trust, we recommend that you consult your tax advisor or attorney for full advice on the effect of your gift.

For more information or a free brochure, please contact Gary Ogburn at ogburng@usa.redcross.org, (415) 427-8171, or Bill Ruettinger at ruettingerw@usa.redcross.org, (415) 427-8989.


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Site Map : All photos by Gene Dailey.