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The Next-Best Thing to Possession

Yes, you are a philanthropist -- whether you know it or not and whether you like it or not. The tax laws of the United States make you one. These laws require every sizable estate to redistribute a significant portion of its assets back to society for the common good. We call this portion "social capital." It is that share of an estate's assets that you and your family are not permitted to keep.

Social capital can be directed in only two ways. One is by choice, the other by default. To put it another way, you can be pro-active in re-directing how your social capital is disbursed, or you can passively let the government direct it for you. Your social capital can serve causes and organizations that you want to support, or it can help fund the operating budget of the Government.

Most individuals find personal choice more gratifying. You retain the power to direct your social capital to those causes which mean the most to you personally, whether they be education, the arts, fighting social ills or any number of other important charitable goals.

Even better, with creative planning you can direct your social capital to benefit you and your family, as well as charity. As a donor or potential donor, you have considerable power and prestige. You can beneficially impact and affect society, along with the most powerful and notable individuals in your community and throughout the nation. Your social capital also can perpetuate your family name and memorialize your accomplishments in positive ways.

Best of all, you can achieve these results while retaining active control over all your assets -- both the portion you can keep, as well as the portion you cannot keep. Through charitable giving mechanisms such as donor-directed funds, supporting organizations and family foundations, the choice is in your hands: control the assets you must give away, or forfeit control to the Government.

As many individuals have already discovered, controlling wealth can almost be as good as actually possessing it.

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