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Charitable Bequests

center on wealth and philanthropy

"The Dynamics of Wealth Transfer: Behavioral Implications of Tax Policy for What Will Happen to the $10 Trillion Transfer."
Thomas B. Murphy and Paul G. Schervish. Presented at the Independent Sector 1995 Spring Research Forum, "Nonprofit Organizations as Public Actors: Rising to New Public Policy Challenges." Alexandria, VA, Mar. 23-24, 1995.
Throughout the paper, we emphasize how specific elements of the tax code affect the strategic choices the wealthy make about the alternative uses for their money. As such, we look more at the social-psychological processes by which tax laws produce their effects (especially in regard to philanthropy among the wealthy) than at purely technical aspects of the legal environment.

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"Leaving a Legacy of Care."
Paul G. Schervish, John Havens, and Albert Keith Whitaker. Philanthropy . Vol. 20, no. 1. pp. 11-13. January/February 2006.
A long-held view has been that the only reason the wealthy left money to charity was to escape the estate tax; remove the tax, and charitable bequests would plummet. Boston College's Center on Wealth and Philanthropy disputed these predictions, and our research indicates that as people become more financially secure, incentives more powerful than taxes incline them to support charity and to limit their bequests to heirs.

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"Pattern of Charitable Contributions and Transfers to Relatives and Friends based on 1998 SCF."
John J. Havens, Working Paper, October 16, 2001.
"The Survey of Consumer Finances" obtains information concerning financial support (excluding alimony and child support) for relatives and/or friends not living in the household. The information consists of (1) the total of all such support in the year preceding the survey year and (2) the relationship of the recipients to the respondent. In 1997 approximately 12 million households made transfers to relatives and friends (mostly children, parents, and siblings) amounting to $64 billion in total. Such transfers range from as little as $20 to $1,000,000 or more, with an average of $5,359 for households making a transfer. During the same time approximately 35 million households made charitable contributions of $500 or more amounting to $111 billion in total. These contributions ranged from $500 to $10.9 million, with an average of $3,157 for households making contributions of $500 or more.

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"The State of Estates: Current Trends and New Thinking on the Meaning, Measurement, and Allocation of Financial Resources in the Light of Death and Taxes."
Paul G. Schervish, John J. Havens, Thomas B. Murphy, and Scott C. Fithian. Presented at the 1998 annual meeting of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action, Seattle, Nov. 5-7, 1998.
This panel discusses a shift in the terrain of study on the relationship between financial status and charitable giving. In writing this paper, the authors are pursuing a unique collaborative approach. The authors are, respectively, a sociologist, a specialist in values-based estate planning, an economist, and a foundation trustee who is an actuary and entrepreneur.