February 17, 2016 — An article by Pepperdine Law professor Kristine S. Knaplund entitled “Becoming Charitable: Predicting and Encouraging Charitable Bequests in Wills” has been published by the University of Pittsburgh Law Review, 77 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 1 (2015).
Excerpt from “Becoming Charitable: Predicting and Encouraging Bequests in Wills”:
What causes people to leave their property to charity in their wills? Many scholars have explored the effects of tax laws on charitable bequests, but now that more than 99% of Americans’ estates are exempt from federal taxes, what non-tax factors predict charitable giving? This Article explores charitable bequests before Congress enacted the federal estate tax and a deduction for charitable bequests. By examining two years of probate files in Los Angeles and St. Louis, in which 16.6% of St. Louis testators, but only 8.3% in Los Angeles, made charitable bequests, we can begin to discern why testators in St. Louis were far more inclined to give to charity. The surprising results may help policy makers encourage those in the United States and in developing countries to give beyond their family and friends.