Three questions to ask when donors remember you in their will


When you learn your organization has been named in a donor’s will it can be a very exciting, but sometimes confusing, time. The planned gift may be from a faithful donor who is well known to you and your organization. But sometimes it’s from a donor who has no apparent connection to your organization, and you have no record of them in your database. In either case, you should ask three important questions after learning that someone has remembered your organization in his/her will:

  1. “Who is the personal representative?”: The personal representative (or executor) is the person named in the will who is responsible for carrying out the terms of a will. Often, the personal representative hires an attorney to assist them. Contact the attorney’s office and obtain the personal representative’s name and contact information.
  2. “Can you please send my organization a copy of the will?”: Ask for a copy of the will as soon as you receive notice of the gift. Once you receive the will, have your legal counsel review it. If you don’t have legal counsel, contact a board member, volunteer or donor with legal expertise and ask them to review the will for you. Start a file and actively track all letters and notices regarding the will.
  3. “Who are the family members?”: In most cases, the personal representative is a family member. Send them a sympathy note and express your gratitude. Then send similar notes to the other immediate family members. Show the family how important the gift is to your organization. Sometimes a relationship with the donor can be passed down to the next generation.

Congratulations on being named in your donor’s will. Now take the steps to steward the gift wisely.

If you have any questions regarding the Steier Tips or the professional services provided by the Steier Group, I encourage you to contact me at any time.

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