Charitable Gift Planning

Supporting the community is important!  From small annual donation to larger once-in-a lifetime gifts, it is often beneficial to discuss your plan, certainly withing the context of your estate planning arrangements.  Often, a family or individual has volunteered, worked for, or finally supported a cherished organization for many years. We often counsel clients on making and timing direct gifts, deferred lifetime gifts, and gifts through their estates.  It all starts with a solid plan that benefits both the client and the organization(s) whose mission they support.

Often, the first consideration for clients is the timing of the charitable contribution.  Is this gift best made during the client’s lifetime or as part of an estate plan?  Often, the answer is a little of both.

Our clients also find it helpful to discuss what property to give.  While clients usually think of a cash gift first, upon more careful examination other type of property may be more beneficial.  Often non-cash gifts result a larger and more immediate income tax deduction as well as estate tax savings.  We often consider contributions of real estate, stock, as well as intangibles like royalties and copyrights. Many contributions are best with life insurance or retirement plan assets.

There are also many gift vehicles to consider such as charitable gift annuities, charitable lead trusts, charitable remainder trusts.  Some of these can be set up simply, some require a bit more planning and shaping to find the most beneficial way to make a gift.  Our approach is to craft the best, and, optimally, the simplest, method that can result accomplishing the goal. 

For larger or more complex gifts, we often recommend a charitable gift agreement. The goal of a written, negotiated gift agreement is to clearly set forth the donor’s intentions, including specific, realistic and measurable restrictions on when and how the charitable organization may use the donation. Additionally, agreements can provide flexibility in the charity’s use of the funds; plus specify the circumstances the charity may make changes to the use of the funds.  The form, length, and method of gift recognition is often also specified.

Perhaps a client’s commitment to a charity or cause is so significant that the creation, of a private foundation is in order. This will allow others to become involved in charitable decisions and can accomplish a great deal over several generations.  However, a private foundation involves ongoing compliance and regularly issues.  We are familiar with the issues that a private foundation can encounter, as well as alternative that can, depending on the donor’s individual situation, provide viable and often highly desirable, alternatives, such as donor advised funds. 

If you are curious about, we can provide advice on questions like:

  • Would it be best to have a written charitable gift agreement, so that both the charity and my family will understand what constitutes the expectations on both side?
  • What verification of my donations are necessary for tax purposes?
  • Exactly what and when will there be a tax deduction for my gift?
  • Among the many assets available for this gift, which should I choose to leave to my family and which should I choose to make a charitable gift?
  • What is a planned gift? Will the charity accept it?  Can the charity administer such a gift?
  • Some charitable gifts provide an income to me or other I designate, should I consider this?
  • I’ve heard that transferring gifts of IRA assets to charity is advantageous. Why?
  • I’m interested in establishing a charitable gift annuity. What financial provisions are available?

We have consulted with local, regional, and national charitable organizations on major gift plans and helped them establish beneficial, solid giving programs that utilize tax benefits to increase giving by their donors, and participate in the planning of large gifts, including the presentation of tax benefits and the drafting of appropriate agreements to affect the gifts. We include our individual clients and their wishes in the development as well as the implementation of gifting strategies that are designed to minimize or avoid estate taxes through the use of trusts that provide support to our clients together with satisfying a client’s charitable wishes. Tax and estate planning for individual clients frequently involves utilization of charitable trusts and other split interest trusts as well as private charitable foundations.

When it comes to planning for major charitable gifts, clients need lawyers who understand how to make gifts in a tax efficient manner as well as carrying out an individual or families own charitable wishes. We have the knowledge and experience to provide knowledgeable guidance to individual clients and charitable organizations alike.