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Why do I need a will?

A will is the best way to guarantee that your assets, regardless of the size of your estate, are distributed exactly as you would like. Your will allows you to determine how your estate will be administered.

When should I start to think about leaving a legacy?

Jewish tradition teaches that one of our key duties is to make the world a better place for future generations. The time is always right to think about how you wish to be remembered.

Can my legacy reflect what is important to me?

Your legacy planning can be a life-altering experience. It enables you to envision the community in the future and be an important factor in shaping it. Through your legacy, you can ensure that the institutions that have been a meaningful part of your life and that you love, can thrive in the future.

What about my children?

You can engage your children in every step of the legacy planning process. Here are some suggestions:

  • Hold a family discussion about how your values have been expressed through giving.
  • Encourage your children to be involved in the institutions to which you are leaving a legacy.
  • Empower your children to continue the tradition of giving.

How should I structure my legacy?

Depending on your goals, your legacy can be structured in the way that is most advantageous to you. A legacy can be a simple bequest in your will stated in dollar terms, as a percent of your estate, or a specific item of value. Other options include a life insurance gift, a bequest through a trust or foundation, or a gift from retirement plan proceeds. Your attorney, financial advisor, or tax advisor can further assist you.

What if I am not able to make a donation now?

One of the wonderful aspects of a legacy donation is that it does not tap your current assets but allows you to look into the future when your asset base may have grown.

How do I get started?

You should inform an attorney who handles your estate of your intent to include the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester in your will.


Glossary of Terms


A bequest is the simplest form of legacy gift. It is a gift of personal property by will or trust. A bequest can be for a specific amount or a percentage of an estate.

Charitable Gift Annuity

A charitable gift annuity is an agreement between you and Schechter Westchester. In exchange for assets irrevocably transferred to the school and designed to the charities of your choice, you receive regular fixed payments for life backed by the resources of the school.

Charitable Lead Trust

A charitable lead trust is the inverse of a life income gift. The trust provides income to the charity of your choice immediately and for a period of years, after which the property either reverts to you or passes to a child or grandchild.

Charitable Remainder Trust

Under a charitable remainder trust agreement, assets irrevocably transferred to a trustee are managed as an individual fund. Income is paid to you and/or someone you designate. At the end of the trust term, the remaining assets pass to the Jewish community organization(s) of your choice.

Current Endowment/Appreciated Stock and Real Estate

Appreciated stock and real estate are excellent vehicles for current giving. Depending on your personal financial situation, you may be able to deduct the full fair market value of the property and avoid capital gains taxes.

Life Insurance

Gifting life insurance can be a creative option. Premium payments are deductible if the charity owns the policy. If properly structured, life insurance proceeds are not subject to taxes or included in probate.

Retirement Plans

Retirement account assets, if left to anyone other than a spouse, may be subject to very high taxation. By designating the Jewish community as recipient of any benefits remaining in your retirement plan, or by using them during your lifetime to fund a charitable gift, you may effectively reduce the taxes for these assets which have grown tax-free.

These words by Rabbi Yishmael, which reflect the essence of our mission, are found in Pirkei Avot. They advise us to lead lives filled with learning, teaching, preservation of our heritage, and social action.

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