Adding Charitable Giving As Part of Your Estate Plan

January 10, 2012

New York estate planning is primarily concerned with passing on assets to family members and saving taxes in the process. While the inheritance planning portion of the effort may seem straightforward, there are many considerations involved. It is much more than simply saying that John gets the house and Jane gets the car. When done right, the process should include consideration of many issues like what legacy one wishes to leave, how they'd like their children to remember them, and what values they wish to pass on. For many families this process involves leaving some assets to a charity of choice.

A story in this weekend's Western Farm Press emphasized how charitable giving is an important part of estate planning for many families. It was a follow up to an article that had been recently written about the value that farm families have in visiting an estate planning attorney to keep a farm alive in the future. The latest story noted that including valued charities in one's inheritance is a helpful way do some good while saving on taxes in the process.

It was explained how using these charitable donations in combination with estate tax exemptions can go a long way to pass along assets to desired family, friends, and causes without losing it to the government. Many assets that have appreciated significantly in value can be given to charity which may allow them to avoid being eaten up by capital gains taxes. Also, retirement savings, like IRAs, can be included in estate planning efforts to benefit charity. This often helps to reduce or eliminate tax liabilities. When done properly it can increase the funds that are going to heirs while also increasing the amount provided to a charity.

Perhaps the most common way that our attorneys work with clients on charitable giving is via use of charitable remainder trusts. These legal entities are unique tax-exempt irrevocable trusts that often provide the best avenue to transfer cash or assets to a charity of choice. Upon the trust's creation, assets are transferred into it. The one who created the trust is then allowed to receive income from that trust (either for life or a set number of years). Whatever is remaining at the end of that income collection period is then given to the named charitable cause. In fact, in certain circumstances the trust income may be paid over the life of one's spouse or children. There are limits on payout rates and other tax implications, and so it is always important to have experienced legal advice to explain whether or not one of these devices in useful in your specific situation.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) as an Estate Planning Tool

Economic Uncertainty Leads to Rise in Estate Planning Interest