How to List a Charity as Your Beneficiary

Last Will and Testament
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A "beneficiary" is a person or entity, such as a nonprofit organization, that receives money or other property from an estate. Beneficiaries are listed in a will, and the money they receive may come from a life insurance policy, retirement account or other kinds of assets. If you have a large estate and plan to leave most or all of your estate to a charity, it would be prudent to consult a lawyer to help you draft a will that would-be heirs won't be able to successfully challenge.

Research the full name of the charity, and identify the city and state where the organization's principal office is located. This will ensure that the charity is listed correctly in your financial documents. Notify the charity that you are listing it as a beneficiary. Many charities provide specific instructions on how to do this, and the organization may list a specific contact person on its website.

Read More: How to Name a Charity in a Will

List the charity as a beneficiary in your will. If you are leaving personal property or money to the charity, specify the items or amount of money you are leaving. If you are bequeathing a life insurance policy or IRA account to the charity, you'll need to modify your account documents with the custodial institution that holds the account. However, also listing the bequest in your will can help ensure that the charity receives the gift. Notify the executor of your will that you've named the charity a beneficiary, and let him know where a copy of your will can be found upon your death.

Contact the institution that issued an insurance policy or other financial asset you wish to leave to a charity. The institution will provide you with paperwork to add a beneficiary. Fill out the paperwork in full and attach any documentation required by the institution. Return the paperwork and request a copy of the paperwork once it has been accepted and filed. Check the paperwork to verify its accuracy.


  • If an executor or heir takes possession of funds in your estate and then writes the charity a check for the money, estate taxes may be incurred. The property should be given directly to the beneficiary from the estate.

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