How to make memorial donations

July 6th, 2017 Melissa Koop
woman writing check

One of the ways to honor someone who has passed away is to make a donation in their memory. Not only does this honor the deceased’s life, it also helps create a legacy for that individual in the future.

But what’s the best way to go about this? And how can you ensure the money you donate will be used the way you’ve intended it to? We’ve put together a list of things you should consider before making memorial donations.

Determine if a fund has been established.

Many obituaries designate a fund or a charity selected by the family to honor the deceased. In those cases, making a monetary contribution to honor a deceased friend or family member is pretty straightforward. Simply determine how much money you’d like to give, and make out a check to the designated fund. Refrain from making a check payable to a Memorial Fund if no memorial fund has been set up. Also don’t checks payable to a “Family of”, instead find a specific fund or individual name to make the check payable to. Most etiquette experts advise to send the donations within 10 days of the funeral so the family can include you when writing thank you notes after the funeral.

Don’t send money to the bank if no fund exists.

If no fund or charity has been specified, consider contacting the funeral home to see if the family has specific wishes for memorial contributions. Resist the urge to send a check to your local bank to contribute financially to their “memorial,” when no such “memorial fund” in fact exists. If no fund exists, the bank is stuck trying to determine what to do with the funds, which can result in a slew of problems.

Consider making a direct financial donation to survivors.

If you’d like to financially support the survivors, make funds payable directly to them, as opposed to the deceased. This will ensure the money will actually go towards those whom you want to help.

Make a charitable donation.

When no one has indicated where to make a donation, the choice is up to you. If the deceased suffered an illness the specified charity may be a medical research organization that works for a cure in that area. Selecting a charity that will make good use of the money is an important consideration.

Ensure the money will be used how you envisioned it.

Recognize that when you’re donating to a memorial fund the fund’s beneficiaries can use the money in any way they please. In other words, the money may end up going towards family bills, debts that are part of the deceased’s estate or other financial obligations. If you feel strongly about your financial contributions being used in a specific way, contribute in a manner that does not leave room for other options.

Inform the deceased’s family.

If you want to ensure that a specific individual is notified of the donation, indicate who the donation is for and who you want the acknowledgment sent to, providing that person’s address.

No matter how you go about it, making a financial contribution in honor of someone’s life is a caring thing to do.

Melissa Koop

About the author

Melissa Koop is Vice President in Retail at MidWestOne Bank. She works with MidWestOne customers to help them manage their personal finances and identify effective money management solutions.

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