NCRF Corner: Leave a lasting legacy

“Legacy.” It’s such a weighty word, isn’t it? We all want to leave a good legacy when our days are over, but we’re too busy leading our day-to-day lives to find a cure for cancer or save the world. Yet there exist simple ways to give back to causes that will outlive us all.

I recently had occasion to review my will and got to thinking about this legacy thing. What is fundamentally important to me? My kids, sure, but what else? What about the perpetuation of a line of work that has been challenging yet unfailingly fascinating, allowing me to put bread on the table and then some? I realized that I could help the charitable arm of NCRA simply by bequeathing a small percentage of my assets to the National Court Reporters Foundation.

Then I started thinking about what might happen if each court reporter left, say, only 2 percent of their estates to NCRF as well? That small amount won’t make a difference to my kids, but it would make a big difference to NCRF and its good work. Imagine what that collective gesture could do for the Veterans History Project and for preserving the personal histories of Holocaust survivors. We’d all be leaving a legacy that would enable others to leave their legacy. A weighty thought indeed.

Estate planning is critical to everyone. If you don’t plan ahead, the government will determine the fate of your assets, and it will not favor your survivors. You really need to be sure that your will is up to date, and by planning ahead, you control where your assets will go. Also, planning ahead gives you peace of mind and lets your family know that they meant enough to you to plan ahead so that they don’t have the tremendous stress of straightening out your estate.

To leave a lasting legacy, include charitable giving in your planning. It has many benefits that not only help you protect your assets but can include impressive tax reductions, avoidance of capital gains taxes, and markedly reduced estate taxes. And you can take advantage of the special benefits that legacy gifts provide.

You may not be aware, but NCRF has a planned giving program called the Legacy Society. It offers the opportunity for you to support your profession through your estate planning, which may have important income or estate tax benefits to you and your heirs. Here are some options you can consider:

Outright gifts: Outright gifts can be used immediately. A gift of appreciated stock or mutual fund shares can be particularly advantageous from a tax standpoint since capital gains tax is avoided.

Bequests: While taking care of your loved ones, you can also make a bequest to NCRF’s Legacy Society through your will. You can leave a particular asset, a percentage of your estate, or a portion of assets remaining after other specific bequests for your family are made. A bequest to NCRF’s Legacy Society is fully deductible for estate tax purposes.

Life insurance: You can name NCRF as the beneficiary of all or a portion of a life insurance policy. Amounts left to NCRF are fully deductible for estate tax purposes.

Planning ahead will give you the deep satisfaction of knowing that you’re returning something to a profession that has been good to you. You are really helping your profession by providing critical resources for the continuation of important programs.

Donations allow NCRF to develop programs and tools that support the profession, whether it’s scholarships and free NCRA memberships for students; providing outreach education about our technology to nonreporting groups through our Legal Education Program or by our participation at biennial international Court Technology Conferences; raising awareness of our profession to the general public through NCRF’s Oral Histories Program; developing seminars, teaching tools, and videos to help us learn, build our brand, and promote court reporting as an exciting and solid career; and more.

So I ask you to consider NCRF in your estate planning, and if you haven’t undertaken this task as yet, I really encourage you to get it done, whether or not NCRF is in the equation. We’ve all heard horror stories of the impact that a failure to plan has on the family. Don’t let the government get more than its share of your estate! Feel free to contact NCRF’s Deputy Executive Director, B.J. Shorak, with any questions 800-272-6272, ext. 126, or bjshorak@ncra.org.

Recording words has been your life’s work. Now make your own record. Join NCRF’s Legacy Society and secure your heritage. I know I’m going to.

Nancy Hopp, RDR, CRR, CMRS

NCRF Trustee