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Children vs. Charities: To Whom Shall You Give Your Estate?

Clients regularly struggle with the decision of how to allocate and distribute their estates between their favorite individuals and their ideal charitable causes. A few years back, I, along with one of my esteemed associates penned what is now affectionately referred to as the Grant-Walker Hierarchy of Worthier Beneficiaries. This model attempts to establish a moral construct for making such decisions. While inherently biased toward an individual's personal values and preferences, the Grant-Walker Hierarchy of Worthier Beneficiaries does provide some level of guidance for testators wrestling with this important decision. Following is our register, listed in order of worthiest to least worthy:

  1. Responsible, well-educated, appreciative and moral individuals, who exhibit strong charitable character traits and inclinations.

  2. Irresponsible, poorly-educated individuals with proper oversight and legal controls in place, along with appreciative, moral and qualified charitable organizations.

  3. Unappreciative, immoral individuals and charitable organizations, along with the United States Treasury.

If helpful, feel free to incorporate our construct into your decision-making process when deciding who gets what at your death.