The estate attorneys and CPA are singing the answer in unison right now IRD's. What is IRD? Income in respect to decedent or in simple terms these are assets that have deferred tax liabilities like non-qualified annuities, 401K, Traditional IRA, and last pay check due, and even items like stored crops. This can get very complicated and usually warrants a tax professional. So there is often full income tax and potentially estate tax on top of that so there would be in effect a double taxation. Would it surprise you to learn that the tax here could be as high at 80% leaving only 20% for your intended heirs. So 4 out of 5 dollars could go to Washington DC and the Treasury rather than you taking control of where these dollars fund. There is such a thing as Zero Tax Planning. Zero Tax Planning often get complicated and some simple planning may be your preferred choice. On way to address this is to place qualified charities as the beneficiary of your IRA and annuity assets. A word of caution here many charities change and some go out of business and you may wish to leave your proceeds to an entity called "Community Foundation" or "Donor Advised Fund". These qualified charities have staying power and provide many more options to those who would take care of your final wishes or ongoing charitable distributions after you are gone. The largest The National Christian Foundation is one of many choices with some excellent resources on their website. One last thought to consider while you are alive: if you are over 70 1/2 you might want to discuss if gifting some of your IRA to charities now in the form of a Charitable IRA.