What Happens to your Donor Advised Fund at the End of Your Lifetime?


By Jill A. Snyder, Esq., estates and trusts attorney at the Law Office of Jill A. Snyder, LLC

The Associated currently manages more than 400 donor advised funds (DAFs), also known as philanthropic funds. Charitably-inclined individuals and families commonly establish DAFs because of the many lifetime benefits that they provide, such as the ability to take an immediate tax deduction on the assets contributed to the DAF, the means to distribute the donated funds over time, and the simplicity of giving from a centralized philanthropic fund. However, when people establish DAFs, they are not typically focused on what happens to the funds remaining in their DAFs after their lifetimes.

My husband and I established a donor advised fund at The Associated many years ago to help us organize our family’s charitable giving and encourage philanthropic conversations with our three sons.

Unless you specify otherwise, the funds remaining in your DAF at the time of the death of the last Donor Advisor will become part of the unrestricted endowment of The Associated. The unrestricted endowment is an important resource for the community because combined with annual campaign contributions and other gifts, it provides critical funds for The Associated and its partner agencies. However, you may also choose one of the following alternatives to this default provision:

1. Donors may select successor Donor Advisors (such as their adult children) who are empowered during their lifetimes to recommend grants to charitable organizations from the DAF at their discretion.

2. Donors may direct that funds are distributed to charities that they designate.

3. Donors may allocate the remaining funds to specific agencies or areas of interest within The Associated or its agencies.

4. Donors may endow their annual campaign gift to The Associated in perpetuity in the form of an Annual Campaign Endowment (ACE) or Lion of Judah Endowment (LOJE).

My husband and I established a donor advised fund at The Associated many years ago to help us organize our family’s charitable giving and encourage philanthropic conversations with our three sons. For this reason, we have selected the first option as a way to pass along our values and encourage continued family collaboration amongst our children.

If you are considering establishing a DAF, think about what you can accomplish during and after your lifetime with a donor advised fund at The Associated. If you are an existing fund holder, consider which option will leave the legacy that is most desirable to you; all it takes is a simple amendment to your DAF agreement. Contact Jackie Yahr at jyahr@associated.org or 410-369-9248 for more information on how to set up your DAF or update your DAF Agreement.

About the author: Jill A. Snyder, Esq. currently serves as the Chair of Funds and Foundations and the Co-Chair of the Lawyers’ Division at the Associated. She is an estates and trusts attorney at the Law Office of Jill A. Snyder, LLC. She and her husband, Michael Snyder, are the proud parent of three sons, Eli Snyder, Brett Snyder, and Adam Snyder. 


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