Building Legacies that Last Estate Planning and Elder Law

Donor Advised Funds

Giving-to-charity2[1]There are many ways to leave a charitable legacy. One of the best is the increasingly popular donor advised fund.

Giving to charity is not as simple as writing a check and sending it in the mail. Sure, it can be done like that, but if you want to make sure you are getting the best possible tax benefit for the charitable gift, then you need to do more planning.

This is especially true for wealthy people, who would like to create a charitable legacy that will outlive them.

While you can create a charitable legacy through several different methods, donor advised funds are popular a good way to do so as the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog recently explained in "The Rise of Donor Advised Funds."

With a donor advised fund, you can invest money now that will be used for charity later. The donor gets an immediate tax benefit and can invest however much he or she wants.

Contributions can be made over time or all at once, whichever is more beneficial. The donor does not have to actually advise how the funds are invested, if not interested in doing so. However, they can, if they are interested.

If you are considering a donor advised fund or any other type of charitable legacy, it is important to seek out the advice of an estate planning attorney. That way you can make sure you are leaving your legacy in a way that makes the most sense for your personal situation and the type of legacy you want to leave.

Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (May 18, 2017) "The Rise of Donor Advised Funds."


The Future of Charitable Giving

Giving-to-charity2[1]What policies President-elect Trump chooses to pursue and whether they prove to be successful or not, could have a dramatic impact on charitable giving.

Whether it is to set up a lasting charitable legacy or to avoid paying the estate tax, creating plans for charitable giving has always been an important part of estate planning. After the unexpected results of the Presidential election, it is not clear exactly how estate planners will deal with their clients' charitable wishes. It is actually not clear which policies President-elect Trump will pursue after his inauguration that will have an impact on charitable giving.

Bloomberg looked at some of the possibilities in "Where Charitable Giving May Head With Trump."

Trump has stated that he will increase GDP growth by 4% per year, which would likely lead to more charitable giving. However, many economists doubt he will be able to fulfill that promise due to economic and demographic circumstances which are beyond his control.

The President-elect campaigned on cutting taxes, especially on the wealthy.  This would also likely increase giving to charity. However, his nominee for Treasury Secretary has cast some doubt on those tax cuts, by recently stating that any cuts on the wealthy will be offset by reducing deductions.

It is also thought that Trump would like to eliminate the estate tax.  This could reduce some charitable giving, at least when the impetus for the giving is to shrink the value of the estate.

Some of this uncertainty should be cleared up soon, when the President-elect begins submitting budget proposals to lawmakers. They should give an indication of what policies he will pursue.

Reference: Bloomberg (Nov. 27, 2016) "Where Charitable Giving May Head With Trump."


A Charitable Legacy Requires Planning

Giving-to-charity2[1]If you want to be remembered for charitable giving, then you should get started with an estate plan.

At this time of year, it can seem like giving to charity is something done with little forethought. It can require no more than dropping loose change in a bell ringer’s bowl at the grocery store or putting a new toy in a designated box at the mall.

While anonymous giving like that is helpful, having a true charitable legacy requires more work and considerable forethought.

People who want to be remembered for being charitable benefactors, need to get comprehensive estate plans as the Port Huron Times Herald explains in “Plan today to make a difference tomorrow.”

With an estate plan, you can set up your charitable giving to be ongoing after you pass away. If you want, you can leave one time gifts in your plan but also create new legal entities that will continue to give to charity indefinitely. You can even dictate what charities these entities will give to and for what purposes. In essence, an estate plan gives you much greater control over how and what your charitable giving will accomplish.

The entities you use to accomplish charitable giving can be relatively simple trusts or they can be complex family foundations.  We provide more information on charitable giving on the Profit Law Firm, LLC website.

Without proper planning, however, creating a charitable legacy is nearly impossible. Attempts to do so can easily fall afoul of the law and IRS regulations. Thus, if you would like to leave a charitable legacy, consult with an estate planning attorney to review your options.  Profit Law Firm can help inform you about the various charitable trusts you can use to accomplish your goals.

Reference: Port Huron Times Herald (Nov. 25, 2016) “Plan today to make a difference tomorrow.”


Trust Charitable Deductions

Giving-to-charity2[1]Like individuals, trusts have to pay tax on any trust income. Also, like individuals, trusts can take income tax deductions for donations to charity as long as the trust is set up properly.

No one really likes paying income taxes. Almost everyone will seek to pay as little as they possibly can. That holds true for trusts that are required to pay federal income tax on any income from trust assets.

One way to lower the amount of taxes that have to be paid is to donate money to charity and take a charitable donation. Trusts can do that just as individuals can.

However, a recent tax court case contains a warning for trusts as Wealth Management discusses in “Tax Court Disallows Trust’s Charitable Deduction for Want of Charitable Intent.”

For years the trust in question had made annual distributions to beneficiaries as required. The trust administrators also set aside funds for charity so they could use that money to take charitable deductions on the trust’s taxes.

However, when the IRS audited the trust, it balked at the deductions.

The tax court agreed with the IRS.

The issue was that the trust documents contained no language of charitable intent. The court refused to read such an intent into the trust.

What does this mean? If you would like your trust to be able to use charitable deductions to offset trust income, then it needs to be clear in the trust documents that the trust has a charitable purpose in part.  If you want to set up a trust that can make charitable deductions, contact Profit Law Firm.  Schedule a consultation with us.

Reference: Wealth Management (Nov. 7, 2016) “Tax Court Disallows Trust’s Charitable Deduction for Want of Charitable Intent.”


Librarian Leaves Millions to University

Giving-to-charity2[1]Every once in a while a story comes out about a person who lived frugally and managed to amass a fortune. The latest example is a librarian from New Hampshire.

Robert Morin loved books. It is believed that with only a few exceptions he once read every book published in the U.S. between 1930 and 1940 in chronological order. Thus, it was probably fitting that when he graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1963 he went to work in the school’s library.

Librarians do not normally make a lot of money, so it came as a surprise to everyone when Morin left the university his entire fortune when he passed away, which was approximately $4 million.

Apparently, Morin lived simply and invested well. He stipulated that $100,000 should go to the library where he worked, but the university can use the rest for other purposes.

My Central Oregon reported this story in “Librarian Quietly Saved $4 Million, Left it to School Where He Worked.”

Similar stories come up every few years. For example, grade school teachers have been known to save and leave millions to charity. In another recent case, a janitor left a small fortune to the school where he worked.

What this shows is that anyone who has the desire to do so can make a fortune by living simply and investing money well.

Of course, not everyone wants to live that way. Those who do, however, should not neglect to spend some of their money visiting with an estate planning attorney so they can makes sure the money goes where they want after they pass away. It does not make sense to save all the money only to have it go to someone you do not want to have it.

Reference: My Central Oregon (Sept. 4, 2016) “Librarian Quietly Saved $4 Million, Left it to School Where He Worked.”