Philanthropy and giving back in terms of time, talent and treasure to organizations we are passionate about is an integral part of many of our lives. This support, no matter the size, helps these organizations continue to successfully serve their mission in the world. Generally, lifetime gifts allow for income tax deductions and the ability to gift appreciated assets with no associated tax. While lifetime giving is prevalent, it does need to be balanced with recognizing these tax benefits and tracking your own income needs or those of dependents during life.
In light of these considerations, another option is setting up philanthropic gifts through estate planning. Planned gifts allow for your charitable gifts to be celebrated and counted on during your life, however, the actual gift likely will not fully transfer until after your lifetime. This is an attractive strategy because there will be little or no change to your liquidity, many of these gifts are non-binding and oftentimes allow for larger gifts than those made during life. Planned giving allows donors to create a lasting legacy while still capturing great tax advantages.
There are various options when it comes to making a planned gift. Some of the most common vehicles are:
The majority of planned gifts are made as bequests through the donor’s will. A will could leave the charitable organization a set dollar amount, a percentage of the estate or even the entire remainder of the estate.
The charitable organization can be the beneficiary of a simple revocable or irrevocable trust. Additionally, there are other trust strategies such as Charitable Lead Trusts and Charitable Remainder Trusts that can benefit you, your family and the organization. Both of those vehicles remove assets from your taxable estate and create income streams for set time periods prior to the account transferring completely.
For qualified retirement plans and life insurance policies you are able to name a charitable organization as a beneficiary to the account. If married, in some cases, you will need written consent from your spouse if not naming them as the beneficiary. That said, the gift of these assets at death would pass directly to the organization and allow for an estate tax deduction. Even better, the organization receives the assets tax-free. During your lifetime, you can also take advantage of Qualified Charitable IRA Distributions, which allow you to gift up to $100,000 annually to charity. The gift is income tax free and can count toward your required minimum distribution.
Charitable Gift Annuities
This is a contract between a donor and charitable organization where the donor makes a gift and in exchange the organization agrees to provide the donor a fixed monthly income for life. This is considered a “split gift” where some will go to immediate work and the rest will sit in reserve to provide income until after death when the remainder then goes outright to the organization. The gift allows for an immediate partial tax deduction and provides lifetime income for up to two beneficiaries. Monthly income paid back to beneficiaries will be treated as either a return of capital or be subject to federal and state income tax.
There are many options when choosing how to make a planned gift. It is important to consider the types of assets you have, which of those you wish to gift and the financial goals for you and your family. The end result should be a charitable plan that meets the needs of your family and still provides maximum impact to the organizations you love. Ancora’s financial planning team is here to help with any of your philanthropic planning needs.