The Lincoln Charter Society: How to Become a "Voluntary Philanthropist"

Back in 1977 Elvis Presley would have been “all shook up” had he realized how much of his estate went to Uncle Sam instead of his wife Priscilla and his daughter Lisa Marie.

That’s because when the “King of Rock and Roll” died at age 42, he died without a will. Some $7.3 million of his $10 million estate went to the U.S. Government in taxes -- he became an “Involuntary Philanthropist.”

Today, many Americans have a will, and even a simple will involving a small estate—a house, a car, a life insurance policy—might enable a family to avoid unnecessary estate taxes. Instead, you can help avoid estate taxes by becoming a “voluntary philanthropist” and leaving some portion of your estate to a charity, such as Providence Health Foundation.

In 2016, tens of thousands of Americans were “voluntary philanthropists” and left U.S. charities more than $30 Billion in estate gifts. Sure, some of those estate gifts were huge—in the tens of millions, a few in the $100 million range. But many estate gifts are far more modest—in the $1,000 gift range, or a small percentage of the estate after family members have been taken care of.

Increasingly over the years, charities like Providence Health Foundation have created ways of honoring and recognizing estate donors while they are still living. Several years ago, Providence established the Lincoln Charter Society to give us the chance to say “thank you” for your planned, future gift while you are still living.

Members of the Lincoln Charter Society have the benefit of knowing their estate gift will help sustain the mission of Providence and the Daughters of Charity well into the future. Members will receive special recognition at events and in publications and also will receive a framed commemorative reproduction of the Providence Charter signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1864.

If you have a will and would like to learn more about becoming a member of the Lincoln Charter Society—please click here, or contact the Providence Health Foundation at (202) 854-7354. We would be honored to enroll you as a member.

If you don’t have a will, please plan on getting one. Contact an attorney; it’s not that expensive and your family will be grateful. Be a member of Elvis Pressley’s music fan club, but please don’t join him in being a member of the “Involuntary Philanthropists” Club that simply benefits Uncle Sam.