Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wills and Non-Profit Name Changes

Image credit: - free image

Kudos to you if you have 1) completed a will, and 2) named a charity as either a primary or contingent beneficiary.  Welcome to a minority of Americans who have taken charge of what will happen to assets upon death and who will oversee the process.  However, there is one lingering question I would ask about those named charities -- does the language take into account the fact that non-profits routinely modify and change their name?  If not, it's time for a will update in my humble opinion.

Earlier this week my local newspaper ran a story about how the non-profit Gilda's Club was changing its name to Cancer Support Community.  The reason, younger folks fighting cancer, the groups target audience, were born after Gilda Radner's death and do not know who she is.  Thus they do not make the connection to younger people fighting cancer.  I tested this on my law student working with me today, who was born in 1987, and sure enough she had never heard of Radner.

When non-profits change their name, and are named in a will or beneficiary form, the situation for confusion arises.  Can the personal representative track down the non-profit.  Might be be confused with one of a similar name, etc.  In my mind the gold standard is to list the full legal name of the non-profit (most have a Foundation or Inc. in their name), the federal tax ID number that is unique to that specific organization, and the phrase "or its legal successor organization".

Thanks for reading, and remember a blog is not an attorney nor does it constitute legal advice.  It opens the door to ideas and conversation, but it is essential for you to seek advice from an attorney in your home state.

No comments: