"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Help: Estate Giving For Lodges

I'm not in the habit of asking for free professional advice, and especially not from attorneys. But I'll make an exception in this case, because I am certain somebody, somewhere has boilerplate wording for this kind of thing just sitting in their drawer gathering dust, right next to the slip-and-fall questionnaires and the mesothelioma class action forms.

I keep saying that lodges and temple buildings don't ask to be remembered in members' estate planning anymore. They used to. But as the appendant bodies and retirement homes took an ever widening bite out of Masonic charitable giving, and since fraternal institutions, for the most part, do not qualify as full-fledged tax exempt 501(c)3 charities, the blue lodges have suffered from financial neglect. Lodges rely on dues alone, for the most part, or on the largesse of brethren who passed away years ago.

One organization I belong to has a substantial fund that has not had a single contribution to it for over three decades.

So the free advice I'm asking for is legalistic boilerplate phraseology to put in newsletters, brochures and appeal letters for brethren to include in their wills in order to leave cash, insurance, retirement proceeds, property or other estate gifts to their local lodge.*

Or perhaps a lodge or grand lodge has already created a planned giving set of guidelines. If so, please pass it along, either as a comment to this entry, or to me at hodapp@aol.com


*Obviously, each state is different, and lodges may have aspects that are 501(c)3 eligible, so any such advice would include the admonition to actually speak to your lawyer.
I am a non-attorney spokesman.


  1. I thought it might be better to put an exact person in your will than an organisation. I mean just bequeath to a lodge member and request he uses it for the brethren. This is to avoid any red tape about a lodge not being registered or an actual business entity.

  2. Bro.

    The GL of FL has set up a program with Bro.s that are Lawyers. If you agree to give a portion of your estate to your Lodge they will help you write your entire Will for free.

    I know this doesn't answer your question but it is a great program for those living in Florida.

  3. I am also interested in this subject. Brothers in my own and other local lodges are not without means, and they are not regularly reminded about this subject.

  4. Hi Chris,

    Here is the standard message I publish in my Valley's newsletter.


    From the Treasurer's Desk

    Interested in leaving a gift to the Valley through your will or trust? The following is suggested wording for your attorney to use when crafting your documents:

    I give, devise, and bequeath __________ (cash, securities, real estate, numismatic collections, artwork, etc.) to the Scottish Rite Association of Northern New Jersey at 99 Two Bridges Road, Borough of Lincoln Park, County of Morris, State of New Jersey, 07035. This bequest shall be used for unrestricted and general purposes as deemed appropriate by the Association's Executive Officers and Board of Trustees.

    Note: The suggested text above is only an example, and is not intended to replace the advice of a licensed attorney. Always seek professional advice when constructing your life documents.


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