My Saturday mornings are not like most other people's Saturday mornings.

Instead of reading the newspaper or catching up on my sleep, I am up early and at work in a wildlife rehabilitation center cleaning and preparing food for dozens of sick or injured birds of prey.

I know that there are many out there like me, who sacrifice their time in service of others or of a cause they believe in. This volunteer work permeates the lives of those who undertake it, making a lasting impact on how they view the world. Even if you do not volunteer your time, perhaps you make weekly or monthly contributions to a local or national charity. Charities make a daily, visible impact on the communities in which we live and individuals enjoy contributing to organizations that shape the world around them.

"Planned giving" is a term that legal professionals use to describe the gift of money or other assets in a will or trust to a charity named by the person writing the will. Planned giving can be accomplished in either a will or a trust by leaving a specific amount or asset to a charity or by leaving a certain portion of someone's total estate to a charity. The person writing the will or trust can even direct the charity to use the contribution from his or her estate for a specific project or cause. When someone who has left a gift in his or her will passes away, the executor or trustee is responsible for ensuring that the gift is delivered to the appropriate organization on the terms laid out by the person making the gift.

Leaving a gift to a charity in your will can make a tremendous impact on your chosen organization and the community. Some gifts are sizable enough to fund the construction of new facilities or the establishment of a new scholarship fund. Others are smaller, but can still make a huge impact for a smaller charity. Think about the potential impact we could have as a community if we all contributed just 5% of what we own when we pass away. Even if each of us only had $2,000 to give, the impact would be tremendous especially because many of us contribute during our lives, but do not continue that gift after our deaths.

Planned giving provides us with a way to continue our legacy of giving to chosen organizations after we have passed away. Weekly or monthly contributions during life enrich our engagement with our community on a local or even a national scale. If you give time or money to a non-profit now, wouldn't you want to continue to contribute to its success?

Planned giving is a meaningful way to create an indelible mark on the community in which you live. We seek out opportunities to give back while we are living and we can do the same after we have passed away. Whether you clean bird cages or deliver meals to the elderly, you can continue that legacy after you pass away by leaving a contribution in your will or trust.

-By Jackie Mahland Esq., Associate, Maguire Legal Group