Name the ACLU in Your Will

A bequest made through a will is the most common form of planned giving, and when drafting your will, you may opt to leave a dollar amount (or percentage) to the American Civil Liberties Union or the ACLU Foundation.

What is the difference between the Union and the Foundation? As a matter of necessity, the American Civil Liberties Union has engaged in more and more legislative lobbying in the past several years. Our work fighting the Patriot Act, our efforts to stop FISA regulations passed by Congress, to oppose a National ID card and to advance important voting rights legislation are just a few examples of work that can only be funded through non-deductible membership gifts to the American Civil Liberties Union. Therefore, we strongly encourage donors interested in supporting the broad range of the ACLU’s work to consider making the largest possible non-deductible gift that they can afford to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Donors who wish to make a tax-deductible gift can do so by contributing to the ACLU Foundation. Many donors choose to make membership gifts in support of the American Civil Liberties Union as well as tax-deductible gifts to the ACLU Foundation.

For a bequest to the ACLU:

We suggest the following language for a bequest to the ACLU. Such a bequest is not deductible for purposes of federal estate tax, but can be used most flexibly by the ACLU, including for legislative lobbying. The tax ID# of the American Civil Liberties Union is 13-3871360.

I give to the American Civil Liberties Union, Inc. a District of Columbia nonprofit corporation that is recognized as exempt from tax under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, with its principal offices at 125 Broad Street, New York, New York, [all (or ____ percent) of my residuary estate] or [the sum of $_______ ] to be used for its general purposes.

For a bequest to the ACLU Foundation:

To make a bequest that qualifies for a federal estate tax charitable deduction, you may direct your gift to the ACLU Foundation as follows. The tax ID# of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation is 13-6213516.

I give to the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Inc. a New York not-for-profit corporation that is recognized as exempt from tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, with its principal offices at 125 Broad Street, New York, New York, [all (or ____ percent) of my residuary estate] or [the sum of $_______ ] to be used for its general purposes.
Tax Note: A federal estate tax charitable deduction is usually not relevant for the many people whose estates are worth under $5,250,000 (or under $10,500,000 for a married couple). Those estates generally fall under the federal estate tax exemption. You should consult your own qualified financial and legal advisors to learn how the laws apply in your particular situation.

Can I use my retirement plans or life insurance?

The standard withdrawal formula for a retirement account is designed to make the balance last for your lifetime, and there is usually a remaining balance. That balance can make a great charitable gift – especially since leaving it to non-spouse family members generally makes it subject to income tax. In contrast, when you name the ACLU as beneficiary, we benefit from 100% of your gift. If you have an IRA, Keogh, 401(k), 403(b) or other qualified retirement plan, you may name the ACLU as beneficiary.

You may also name the ACLU the beneficiary of a life insurance policy through your employer or through your own separate policy. Life insurance policies and qualified retirement plans (i.e. IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, etc.) are generally considered non-probate assets. As long as you have a valid beneficiary designation, they will automatically bypass probate court. Their disposition is not controlled by your will (unless you choose to designate your estate as the beneficiary). Instead, the remaining balance or insurance proceeds are distributed to the parties whom you’ve named as beneficiaries when you set up the account or policy. So, you can make this type of gift even if you don’t yet have a will.

You can easily update the beneficiary designation at any time by requesting a beneficiary designation form from your financial institution or insurer. Often these are available on the applicable company’s website or with your company’s human resources department. Simply complete the form and mail it back. Like a bequest, your gift remains revocable and is made only when you know you no longer need the assets. You also have the flexibility to designate a percentage, rather than the whole amount.

If you need to provide for a surviving partner or other family member, consider naming your partner as primary beneficiary, and the ACLU as secondary beneficiary. The ACLU will receive a gift only if your primary designee does not survive you. If your partner does the same, then the ACLU will receive a gift upon the death of the second-to-die.

What information do I need to complete a Beneficiary Designation form?

To designate a gift that is not deductible for estate tax purposes (but which the ACLU can use most flexibly), simply provide the legal name, address and taxpayer identification number on your provider’s beneficiary designation form as follows:

American Civil Liberties Union, Inc.
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004-2400
Tax ID# [enter this if asked for the beneficiary’s social security #, employer identification # (EIN) or taxpayer identification #:] 13-3871360

For more information on planned gifts or the creation of Charitable Gift Annuities (CGA’s), please contact us at 860-471-8465, or email tdavis@acluct.org.