Charitable Giving

How Do I Include Charitable Giving in My Estate Plan?

One approach frequently employed to give to charity, is to donate at the time of your death. Including charitable giving into an estate plan, is great way to support a favorite charity.

Baltimore Voice’s recent article, “Estate planning and charitable giving,” notes that there are several ways to incorporate charitable giving into an estate plan.

Charitable Giving
Incorporating charitable giving in your estate plan is one of the most common ways to give to charity.

Dictate giving in your will. When looking into charitable giving and estate planning, many people may start to feel intimidated by estate taxes, thinking that their family members won’t get as much of their money as they hoped. However, including a charitable contribution in your estate plan will decrease estate tax liabilities, which will help to maximize the final value of the estate for your family. Talk to an experienced estate attorney to be certain that your donations are set out correctly in your will.

Donate your retirement account. Another way to leverage your estate plan, is to designate the charity of your choice as the beneficiary of your retirement account. Note that charities are exempt from both income and estate taxes. In choosing this option, you guarantee that your favorite charity will receive 100% of the account’s value, when it’s liquidated.

A charitable trust. Charitable trusts are another way to give back through estate planning. There is what is known as a split-interest trust that lets you donate assets to a charity but retain some of the benefits of holding the assets. A split-interest trust funds a trust in the charity’s name. The person who opens one, receives a tax deduction when money is transferred into the trust. However, the donors still control the assets in the trust, and it’s passed onto the charity at the time of their death. There are several options for charitable trusts, so speak to a qualified estate planning attorney to help you choose the best one for you.

Charitable giving is a component of many estate plans. Talk to your attorney about your options and select the one that’s most beneficial to you, your family and the charities you want to support.

Reference: Baltimore Voice (January 27, 2019) “Estate planning and charitable giving”

Thinking about Giving It All Away? Here’s What You Need to Know

There are some individuals who just aren’t interested in handing down their assets to the next generation when they die. Perhaps their children are so successful, they don’t need an inheritance. Or, according to the article “Giving your money away when you die: 10 questions to ask” from MarketWatch, they may be more interested in the kind of impact they can have on the lives of others.

If you haven’t thought about charitable giving or estate planning, these 10 questions should prompt some thought and discussion with family members:

Should you give money away now? Don’t give away money or assets you’ll need to pay your living expenses, unless you have what you need for retirement and any bumps that may come up along the way. There are no limits to the gifts you can make to a charity.

Do you have the right beneficiaries listed on retirement accounts and life insurance policies? If you want these assets to go to the right person or place, make sure the beneficiary names are correct. Note that there are rules, usually from the financial institution, about who can be a beneficiary—some require it be a person and do not permit the beneficiary to be an organization.

Who do you want making end-of-life decisions, and how much intervention do you want to prolong your life? A health care power of attorney and living will are used to express these wishes. Without these documents, your family may not know what you want. Healthcare providers won’t know and will have to make decisions based on law, and not your wishes.

Do you have a will? Many Americans do not, and it creates stress, adds costs and creates real problems for their family members. Make an appointment with an estate planning attorney to put your wishes into a will.

Are you worried about federal estate taxes? Unless you are in the 1%, your chances of having to pay federal taxes are slim to none. However, if your will was created to address federal estate taxes from back in the days when it was a problem, you may have a strategy that no longer works. This is another reason to meet with your estate planning attorney.

Does your state have estate or inheritance taxes? This is more likely to be where your heirs need to come up with the money to pay taxes on your estate. A local estate planning attorney will be able to help you make a plan, so that your heirs will have the resources to pay these costs.

Should you keep your Roth IRA for an heir? Leaving a Roth IRA for an heir, could be a generous bequest. You may also want to encourage your heirs to start and fund Roth IRAs of their own, if they have earned income. Even small sums, over time, can grow to significant wealth.

Are you giving money to reputable charities? Make sure the organizations you are supporting, while you are alive or through your will, are using resources correctly. Good online sources include GuideStar.org or CharityNavigator.org.

Could you save more on taxes? Donating appreciated assets might help lower your taxes. Donating part or all your annual Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) can do the same, as long as you are over 70½ years old.

Does your family know what your wishes are? To avoid any turmoil when you pass, talk with family members about what you want to happen when you are gone. Make sure they know where your estate planning documents are and what you want in the way of end-of-life care. Having a conversation about your legacy and what your hopes and dreams are for family members, can be eye-opening for the younger members of the family and give you some deep satisfaction.

Reference: MarketWatch (Oct. 30, 2018) “Giving your money away when you die: 10 questions to ask”

Sheryl Sandberg is “Leaning In” to the Giving Pledge

Sandberg is donating her entire stake in Survey Monkey to charity, in the shape of shares or the proceeds of sales of those shares. The Facebook COO and Survey Monkey board member has embraced the Giving Pledge.

You don’t have to give away millions, or billions, to be philanthropic. In fact, if you are a regular donor to charities, you may want to give some thought to creating a donor-advised fund. CNBC’s article, ““What you can learn from Sheryl Sandberg's plans to donate her SurveyMonkey shares,” explains how donor advised funds work and how donating appreciated assets benefits investors at all asset levels.

Giving-to-charity2Sandberg plans to donate all of the shares she owns, or the proceeds of the sale of those shares, to the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation, according to the company's IPO prospectus. Her charitable plans are part of her strategy to participate in the Giving Pledge, whereby some of the world's wealthiest individuals, including Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, have agreed to give most of their wealth to charity. Sandberg has already donated Facebook shares to charity through a donor-advised fund.

Many people experience satisfaction in giving during life, and Sandberg’s actions are a good lesson in charitable giving. Giving appreciated investments to charity is a wise strategy. However, there are some things to consider before you do this.

The tax savings from charitable giving can be significant, but that shouldn’t be your sole rationale for giving. The reason is that you’ll still be parting with more money than the tax itself. Don't write a large check for charitable purposes without reviewing it with your attorney. In many cases, she can increase the value and benefit of the gift at no cost to the charity. If you plan to give money away to charity on a regular basis, you may want to think about a donor-advised fund.

A donor-advised fund allows you to monitor your charitable donations, because the money comes from one fund. The IRS lets you take a tax deduction in the year you give to your donor-advised fund. You then can let the money sit in your account until you decide that you are ready to donate it. Donor-advised funds also let a person shield their gifts from the public.’

People who have multi-millions in assets can also create a private foundation for their giving strategy. The cost of setting up and managing a foundation is prohibitive for anyone but the wealthiest individuals or families. The foundation has to file a tax return every year, and usually requires the help of an attorney to set up. For families with that kind of money, the foundation provides a larger degree of control, and their gifts are public, not private, in nature.

Reference: CNBC (October 4, 2018) “What you can learn from Sheryl Sandberg's plans to donate her SurveyMonkey shares”

 

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