When thinking about health, especially later in life, we must eventually consider end-of-life decisions that, while not always health-related, are inevitably impacted by the finite nature of our existence.

It may not be the most pleasant thing to do at first, but planning ahead with a view toward ensuring that our wishes are fulfilled after we die can be liberating and even comforting to ourselves and our loved ones.

This is true about our wishes concerning our assets: Who will inherit our estate? How much of it will go to the government in the way of the federal estate tax that will need to be paid? How can we ensure that the people and causes we care about are sustained through our financial legacy? Can we designate part or all of our estate to be used for charitable purposes?

Planned giving through the Kern Community Foundation can help.

In fact, KCF has a Legacy Society, a group of individuals who have made a provision in their will to have some of their assets go into a permanent endowment that is held and managed by the foundation. The dollars can be designated by the legacy donors to benefit a favorite local charitable organization or cause in perpetuity, with distributions from the endowment paid out every year.

How is it possible to do this without having the money in the endowment run out?

According to Investopedia.com, “Financial endowments are typically structured so the principal amount invested remains intact, while investment income is available for immediate funding for use to keep a nonprofit company operating efficiently.”

And endowment gifts can create a significant deduction against the federal estate tax.

In an article published in the February issue of Bakersfield Life Magazine, Kern Community Foundation President and CEO Kristen Beall Barnes wrote, “Planned or legacy giving simply means planning now to leave a gift after your lifetime and it is often easier than you think.”

Indeed, there is easy-to-understand information about how to establish a legacy gift at Kernfoundation.org > Giving > Ways to Give, including sample language for a bequest — a gift of personal property such as money, bonds, stocks (including from a 401K or IRA retirement account), life insurance payout benefits or real estate, which must always be made in writing.

You and your financial adviser can use the bequest to specify your legacy gift for:

• A designated nonprofit organization;

• A field of interest fund, which benefits organizations operating within an area of service such as health care, human services, education, the environment, the arts, etc.;

• An unrestricted charitable fund, which provides funds for worthy charitable purposes determined by the foundation’s board of directors;

• Or to add to one of the many already existing funds managed by the foundation.

You can designate your legacy gift as a set dollar amount, shares of stock or a specific asset, a percentage of your estate or a piece of real estate. Plenty of creative possibilities are available to you as a legacy donor.

And you can choose to give anonymously or have your commitment to our community’s future be recognized publicly by the foundation as part of your charitable legacy.

For more information, write to info@kernfoundation.org, or call 661-325-5346 and ask about planned giving opportunities.

Louis Medina is the new manager of community impact for the Kern Community Foundation.