Wildlife Legacy Society


Life Insurance Gifts

Free Tracks You Leave Behind VideoA simple way to make a substantial gift to Defenders of Wildlife’s work to protect wildlife is by naming Defenders a beneficiary of a life insurance policy. These assets, like retirement funds, can be an important part of your estate planning, but do not pass through your will. 

You may name Defenders a beneficiary of any individual or group life insurance policy. Defenders can be the sole beneficiary, a beneficiary of a percentage of the life insurance proceeds, or the contingent beneficiary in case you are predeceased by a loved one. To include Defenders as a beneficiary of your life insurance policy, all you have to do is fill out a "Change of Beneficiary" form with your insurance provider. (See Defenders' Legal Designation).

If you donate the policy itself to Defenders, rather than simply naming Defenders as the beneficiary, you will also get an income tax deduction. The deduction would be for the lesser of the cost basis or the value of the policy. If your policy is not fully paid up, you may make tax-deductible contributions to Defenders to cover future premium payments. Of course, you can also purchase a new policy, naming Defenders as the owner and beneficiary. Again, premium payments you pay on the policy would be deductible as charitable contributions. However, check applicable state law before assigning a life insurance policy to Defenders.

Side Profile View Wolf (c) USFWS Estate tax will be completely avoided on life insurance proceeds payable to Defenders on your death.

If you want to provide an income stream to a surviving loved one, you can arrange to fund a charitable gift annuity or charitable remainder trust with the death benefits of a life insurance policy. You would receive an estate tax deduction for the entire proceeds of the policy if the gift annuity or charitable remainder trust is established just for the benefit of your spouse, and for a portion of the proceeds if one or more other beneficiaries are named. Defenders would receive use of the principal remaining in either arrangement after the lifetime(s) of the beneficiary(ies) or term of the trust.

Defenders has established the Wildlife Legacy Society to honor the special group of members who have made provisions for Defenders of Wildlife in their estate plans or other gift plan. 

If you would like more information, please call us toll-free at 1-800-915-6789, send email to legacy@defenders.org or write to us at:

Defenders of Wildlife
Gift Planning Department
1130 17th Street, NW 
Washington, D.C. 20036

Defenders of Wildlife is not engaged in rendering legal or tax advisory service. Please notify your attorney or other professional advisor for advice or assistance in specific cases.