Austin Texas Estate Planning Blog

What Is the Best Way to Give to Charity

What’s the Best Way to Give to Charity? By Austin Estate Planning Attorney Zachary D Kamykowski

January 2, 2023 • | Law Office of Zachary D Kamykowski, PLLC
It may be better to give than to receive. However, it may be even better to give and see your generosity rewarded.

Charitable giving plays a valuable role in estate and tax planning. Your generous donation could help to maintain financial security, exert control over assets during life and after death and provide for heirs, as explained in a recent article titled “Charitable giving good for heart, 1040” from the Valdosta Daily Times. A well-planned donation can also provide a healthy income tax deduction and a reduction of estate taxes.

To accomplish any of these objectives, you’ll want to work with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help tailor an estate plan to your circumstances. Here are some strategies to consider.

Gifts of appreciated property might allow you to avoid capital gains tax owed when the asset sells and, if appropriately planned, might allow you to receive an income tax deduction, usually worth the asset’s fair market value.

Removing any assets from your estate reduces the potential estate tax liability.

If you want to donate to a charity but you’d like to maintain some control over it, a Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) might be a good fit. A CRT works best when funded by an appreciated asset, such as real estate or stock in a family-owned business.

Once the property transfers to the CRT, the CRT can sell the appreciated assets it holds without paying capital gains taxes. It then continues to provide income generated by the CRT to the beneficiaries for some time, as instructed by the CRT. At the end of this period, the trust donates the remainder of the CRT to the charity. You avoid capital gains on the assets you contributed and receive both an income stream and a tax deduction.

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Another strategy is to use a Charitable Lead Trust or CLT. With a CLT, you give the charity the use of the asset and the right to any income generated for a predetermined time. When the time period ends, the asset reverts to you or whoever you designate in the CLT. Appropriate assets for a CLT could be income-producing stocks and bonds, a valued collection, or a painting transferred to a museum for a certain period.

You likely receive a current income tax deduction for the value to the charity. However, you receive no other direct benefit during the term. If you direct a CLT’s creation upon death, you could reduce your estate’s tax liability.

Early tax planning can help make the most of any charitable giving opportunities and let you take full advantage of any additional benefits. Talk with an experienced estate planning attorney to receive guidance appropriate to your unique situation.

Reference: Valdosta Daily Times (Dec. 4, 2022)  “Charitable giving good for heart, 1040.”

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