Single Individual with Charitable Intent

Single Individual with Charitable Intent

What would you recommend (in terms of investment/charitable giving) for a single male, ~30, no children, with MS. He owns his home, but his sibling's family lives in the home as his primary caretaker(s). He is unable to work, but has some monthly expenses. He would like to make a contribution to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), and cover expenses now and in the future


While its admirable to want to make contributions and help a worthy cause, the individual who the above question addresses owes his primary loyalty to himself. If he cannot work and is young, he really needs to focus on preserving any financial resources he has for his future needs. While there are some charitable steps he could take, its not clear that they are really in his best interest. For example, he could retain his home for his use for life (a life estate) and deed the house, subject to that life estate, to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The gift of the rights to his house after his death (i.e., when his life estate ends) is called a gift of a remainder interest. While this is a great technique in many situations, this just doesn't seem like one. Its important to understand why to not only protect this individual, but to help identify other situations that are appropriate for this technique.

  • With no significant income there would be no value to any income tax charitable contribution deduction.
  • If he fits the remainder interest, he would still retain the right to live in the house for life, but this presents two problems. If he wants to leave something to his family who are serving as caretakers, if he gifts a remainder interest in the house to the charity he may have nothing left to give them. The most significant issue and concern is that if he gifts a remainder interest in his house to charity (or any other charitable technique) if he needs to tap the equity for his care, he won't be able to. This is a potentially devastating restriction

While again its admirable that he might be thinking of others, that may just not be practical or appropriate. Perhaps the best course of action for this indidivual is to consult an attorney who is an elder law specialist to see how he can safeguard his home for his family and prevent it from being lost to medical costs.

You also inquired about investments. He should start with the elder law consultation to safeguard his home. You didn't indicate that there are any other assets to invest. However, if his only asset is his house that too is an investment decision, and potentiall a risky one for his future financial well being. But its not clear what options he has if his home is where he is being cared for. A reverse mortgage might free up some funds, but at his age its probably an imposibility.

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