Ray Kroc is one of the most influential entrepreneurs of the 20th Century.  His influence on American culture, and world culture for that matter, is staggering.  Kroc managed to build both an empire, create one of the most recognizable brands in the world, and change the way the world eats.  Many of you have probably never heard the name Ray Kroc.  Yet, in all likelihood, you pass by his legacy daily and are probably included in the “Billions and Billions Served.”

In the early 1950s, Ray Kroc was making ends meet by selling state-of-the-art milk shake mixers.  A pair of brothers, Dick and Mac McDonald, ordered eight mixers from Kroc for their hamburger stand in California.  Kroc wanted to see why any one restaurant would need that many milk shake mixers.  Fascinated by the brothers’ simple menu, fast service, and the amount of business they were doing, Kroc partnered with the McDonald brothers to begin franchising their restaurants. By 1961, Kroc had bought out the McDonald brothers and became the sole owner of the McDonalds brand.  By 1970, there were 1,500 McDonalds worldwide.  When Kroc died in 1984, there were nearly 8,000 McDonalds in 32 countries.  Today, McDonalds is the largest fast food chain in the world with over 34,000 locations in 119 countries.  It’s nearly impossible to travel anywhere in the world without running into the influence of Ray Kroc.

Ray Kroc’s success in the business world allowed him to utilize his wealth for a wide range of charitable giving.  He started the Ronald McDonald House Foundation in 1974, to provide housing and services to families with hospitalized children so they could be close by to support their children.  Today, there are 322 Ronald McDonald Houses in 52 different countries. Kroc was also a great supporter of medical research and donated generously to Dartmouth Medical School.  Kroc’s legacy continues to reach across the business and non-profit world.

So how does this pertain to the average American?  Many of you may own a small business or have dedicated your career to a specific field.  The idea of leaving behind a financial legacy through a trust plan is important.  But it is also important to consider the charitable legacy one can leave behind through charitable giving.  Charitable giving can both benefit your family and your estate while changing individuals’ lives.

There are many tax and income benefits charitable giving can have on your estate. In fact, the tax savings achieved through charitable giving can net you more money in pocket than by simply selling your property and paying taxes to the government.

One charitable gifting strategy is setting up a Charitable Remainder Trust. This type of trust is an irrevocable trust that you fund and obtain income from for a set period of time after which the remaining balance is gifted to a charity of your choice. This option gives you an income stream and multiple tax benefits for you and your beneficiaries. Another strategy is a Charitable Lead Trust. This type of trust is funded with assets that will go to your descendants upon your death. The difference between this and a normal trust is that a set percentage of the trust’s assets will go to charity. This allows you to pay a much smaller gift tax when initially funding the trust, while saving your beneficiaries from paying much larger estate taxes when they receive their shares. Another charitable giving option may be to establish a Foundation which also has unique tax benefits for your estate.

Please contact a qualified estate planning attorney that can assist you in properly determining the right charitable giving options for you and your family.

For additional reading:

A Culture of Charitable Giving

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