We’ve all heard stories – good and bad – about elderly people and their estates. Some transfer healthy amounts to heirs and charity. Others’ estates are consumed by taxes and the federal government.

As financial advisors, it’s crucial to address charitable planning with older clients while they are still well. In fact, it’s the conversation that can’t wait.

Here are 10 practical tips for initiating charitable conversations with seniors:

  1. Establish a Baseline
    Start discussing charitable planning as soon as possible. By establishing a baseline plan early on, you can adapt and refine it over time to reflect changes in your client’s circumstances and priorities.
  2. Take the Initiative
    Take the lead in conversations about charitable planning. Senior clients may not be aware of all the options. Knowing their philanthropic intent enables you to appropriately invest assets for charitable giving.
  3. Find Conversation Starters
    Ask open-ended questions about their philanthropic interests, values and goals. Then, learn more: What is their timeframe? Do they want to give during their lifetime, at death, for a certain period after death or a combination?
  4. Explore Options
    Educate senior clients about the various charitable planning options available to them, such as donor-advised funds, charitable trusts and legacy gifts. Tailor options to meet their financial and charitable goals.
  5. Talk Legacy
    Discuss the client’s desire to involve their heirs. Explore how their philanthropic decisions can impact future generations and the causes they care about most.
  6. Address Privacy Preferences
    Respect senior clients’ privacy preferences regarding their charitable giving. Discuss whether they prefer to make anonymous donations through a donor-advised fund or receive public recognition for their generosity.
  7. Leverage Tax Efficiencies
    Help senior clients maximize the tax benefits of their charitable contributions through strategies such as qualified charitable distributions from retirement accounts. Ensure they understand the tax implications of their charitable giving decisions.
  8. Monitor and Adjust
    Regularly review and adjust the charitable plan in response to changes in the client’s financial situation or philanthropic priorities. Stay proactive by monitoring the plan’s effectiveness and making necessary revisions.
  9. Educate and Empower
    Empower senior clients with knowledge about charitable planning options and their potential impact. Provide educational resources and support to help them make informed decisions about their philanthropy.
  10. Emphasize the Importance of Legacy
    Highlight the significance of leaving a charitable legacy for senior clients. Encourage them to reflect on their values and consider how their philanthropic contributions can make a lasting impact on the causes they care about most.By engaging in meaningful conversations about charitable planning with senior clients, financial advisors can help them leave a lasting legacy, support important causes, and find fulfillment in their philanthropic endeavors. Don’t wait: Start the conversation today to ensure your senior clients’ philanthropic goals are realized.



American Endowment Foundation (AEF) is one of the nation’s largest independent donor-advised fund sponsors. AEF expands philanthropy by partnering with firms and advisors in the financial services industry, enabling more donors to create a significant charitable impact. To learn more about AEF’s resources for donors and financial advisors, or to open a donor-advised fund, visit aefonline.org or call us at 1-888-966-8170.