The simplest planned gift to the Church is a bequest in your last will or testament or in your living trust to your parish, the Archdiocese of Detroit Endowment Foundation, Sacred Heart Major Seminary or another archdiocesan institution. This demonstrates the obvious necessity to have a valid will or trust in order to accomplish your goal of leaving a legacy to the Church as your final act of stewardship.

Even if you choose not to make an outright bequest to the Church, it may be a good idea for you to consider the Church as the beneficiary of a contingent bequest in the event all of your other named beneficiaries no longer exist at the time of your death. This is sometimes referred to as a "clean up" provision. It ensures that your property is distributed according to your plan rather than the state law on estate distributions.

A tax planning point for bequests: To the extent possible, your bequests to the Church should be from assets referred to in the Internal Revenue Code as "income in respect of a decedent." Some examples of these assets are U.S. government savings bonds and retirement plans such as 401(k) plans and IRAs. These assets are ideal for bequests to the Church because they are subject to income tax if received by a tax-paying beneficiary, such as a family member. However, since the Church, like other charities, is tax-exempt, income tax can be avoided on bequests of these assets to the Church. Other assets, such as bank accounts, life insurance and corporate stocks and bonds, which do not suffer this income tax taint, are better assets to distribute to family beneficiaries.

Bequests may take several different forms:

  • A bequest of a specific amount:
    I give $$$ to....

  • A bequest of specific property:
    I give 100 shares of XYZ Corporation to....
  • A bequest of a portion of the residue of your estate:
    I give 10 percent of the remaining property in my estate to....

  • A bequest of the complete residue of your estate:
    I give all of the remaining property in my estate to....

The following are some beneficiary designations for various Archdiocese of Detroit institutions.

To your parish:
To Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit, and his successors in office, for the benefit of (name of parish and city).

To the Archdiocese of Detroit Endowment Foundation:
To the Archdiocese of Detroit Endowment Foundation, Detroit, Michigan.

To Sacred Heart Major Seminary:
To Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, Michigan.