Estate Planning: Questions to Ask

Let's examine the questions you need to have handy when you sit down with a donor prospect to discuss the possibility of making a gift via their estate plan. Of course, equally important to the conversation is how you frame these questions, and having a handle on what information you can provide that may allow them to consider including your organization in their estate.

1. Is your donor prospect's estate plan current?

Also, be prepared to answer questions from the donor about whether you yourself have a current estate plan.

For a sampling of questions that will help you further the discussion, see Estate Planning: Starting the Conversation.

2. Have the best possible assets been designated?

If they have already decided to include your organization in their estate plan, have they also designated which asset should be used to complete their gift?

3. Has your prospect made clear how they want their estate gift used? 

If so, are they willing to sign a gift agreement?

4. If there's a living trust, has the donor changed ownership of the relevant assets?

If your donor prospect has a living trust, be certain to inquire whether or not they have changed the ownership of their assets into the name of the trust.

5. Have they considered an annual gift?

Studies show that 30% of donors who have included your organization in their estate plan will subsequently increase their annual giving. Don’t overlook the opportunity to encourage an annual gift.

6. Have heirs been included?

Have your donor prospects included appropriate heirs in the discussion of their charitable gifts via their estate plan? 

Let's end with a question for you:

Do donors who include your organization early in their estate planning generally make larger commitments than donors who add your organization a few short years before death? 

Yes. They do. Knowing that should encourage you to become confident in bringing up the subject of estate planning early in your relationships with donors.