Psst: Don’t forget about charitable gift annuities

Psst: Don’t forget about charitable gift annuities

 

Certain charitable clients may wish to structure a gift to charity so that the client retains a lifetime income stream. Keep in mind that a charitable gift annuity (“CGA”) could be an attractive option for these clients. Plus, if the client is 70 ½ or older, the client can take advantage of the one-time Legacy IRA opportunity to give $53,000 to a qualified charity such as an unrestricted or field-of-interest fund at The Community Foundation.

A CGA, like any other annuity, is a contract. Your client agrees to make an irrevocable transfer of cash or assets to a charitable organization. In return, the charitable organization agrees to pay the client (or a designated beneficiary such as a spouse) a fixed payment for life. Your client is eligible for an immediate income tax deduction for the present value of the future amount passing to charity. 

The team at The Community Foundation can help you stay up-to-date on the latest CGA rate changes (including the rates that took effect at the beginning of this year). We’ll work with you to evaluate whether and when a CGA is a good planning move for your client. 

 

Use caution when advising clients about donating works of art

Your clients who own highly-appreciated works of art certainly can consider making gifts of this property to a charity. Use caution, though, when helping clients structure gifts of artwork. To be eligible for a charitable deduction at fair market value, the nonprofit recipient’s use of the donated artwork must meet certain qualifications, in that the artwork has to be used for its charitable purpose (think art museums). On top of that, be wary of techniques that recently have come under severe IRS scrutiny and have been determined to circumvent the rules for tax deductions. 

 

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice. 

FAQs: A snapshot of clients’ tax-time charitable giving questions

FAQs: A snapshot of clients’ tax-time charitable giving questions

The year is in full swing. Attorneys, accountants, and financial advisors are asking clients to start gathering tax documents and related paperwork for 2023 tax returns and 2024 planning. Now is a good time for advisors to review a few basic tax principles related to charitable giving. Here are three questions that are top of mind for many advisors, along with answers that can help you serve your clients.

How important is it to high net-worth clients to get a tax deduction for gifts to charity?

Among clients who own investments of $5 million or more, 91% of those surveyed reported that charitable giving is a component of their estate and financial plans. In another study, most affluent investors cited reasons for giving well beyond the possibility of a tax deduction and would not automatically reduce their giving if the charitable income tax deduction went away. What this means for your practice is that it’s important to be aware of your clients’ non-tax motivations for giving, such as family traditions, personal experiences, compassion for particular causes, and involvement with specific charitable organizations. This also means it’s critical to talk about charitable giving with all of your clients because it’s likely that most consider it to be important.

Why do clients so often default to giving cash?

Many clients simply are not aware of the tax benefits of giving highly-appreciated assets to their donor-advised or other type of fund at The Community Foundation or other public charity. Even if they are aware, they forget or are in a hurry and end up writing checks and making donations with their credit cards. It’s really important for advisors to remind clients about the benefits of donating non-cash assets such as highly-appreciated stock, or even complex assets (e.g., closely-held business interests and real estate). When clients give highly-appreciated assets in lieu of cash, they often can reduce–significantly–capital gains tax exposure, and they can calculate the deduction based on the full fair market value of the gifted assets.

What are the basic deductibility rules for gifts to charities?

It’s important to know that the deductibility rules are different for your clients’ gifts to a public charity (such as a fund at The Community Foundation) on one hand, and their gifts to a private foundation on the other hand. Clients’ gifts to public charities are deductible up to 50% of AGI, versus 30% for gifts to private foundations. In addition, gifts to public charities of non-marketable assets such as real estate and closely-held stock typically are deductible at fair market value, while the same assets given to a private foundation are deductible at the client’s cost basis. This difference can be enormous in terms of dollars, so make sure you let your clients know about this if they are planning major gifts to charities.

So what’s the first step? Reach out to the team at The Community Foundation! We really mean it. Make it a habit to mention charitable giving to your clients. From that moment on, whatever the clients’ charitable priorities, consider our team to be your behind-the-scenes back office and support department to handle all of your clients’ charitable giving needs.

 

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice. 

What happens when I leave a bequest to my fund at The Community Foundation?

What happens when I leave a bequest to my fund at The Community Foundation?

Many donors and fund holders at The Community Foundation have updated their estate plans to leave a bequest to their donor-advised or other type of fund.

Some bequests take the form of a “specific bequest,” which means that the fund at The Community Foundation receives a specific amount of money from the donor’s probate estate or trust. For example, for a specific bequest, your advisor might include a provision in your will as follows:

I bequeath $15,000 to The Community Foundation (taxpayer ID number and/or mailing address), a tax exempt organization under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3), to be added to the [Name of Your Fund], a component fund of The Community Foundation, and I direct that this bequest become part of the Fund.

In these situations The Community Foundation will be ready to receive your bequest, typically as soon as the estate is settled.

In other situations, you may want to leave a bequest of a portion of the remainder of your estate after all specific bequests, expenses, and taxes have been paid. These types of bequests are called “residuary” bequests. The language can look something like this:

I leave all the rest and residue of my property, both real and personal, of whatever nature and wherever situated, and assets, including all real and personal property, tangible or intangible, to The Community Foundation (taxpayer ID number and/or mailing address), a tax exempt organization under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3), to be added to the [Name of Your Fund], a component fund of The Community Foundation, and I direct that this bequest become part of the Fund.

Because the amount of a residuary bequest cannot be determined until all of the assets in an estate have been identified and valued, and all expenses and taxes have been paid, the designated charity (in this example, your fund at The Community Foundation) will not receive the full amount of a residuary bequest until the estate is completely settled. Typically, however, the estate’s personal representative or trustee will make what is known as a “partial distribution” to the residuary beneficiary (or beneficiaries as the case may be), as soon as the personal representative has enough information about the assets and liabilities to confidently do so.

When you leave a residuary bequest to your fund at The Community Foundation, our team will be involved at various steps during the administration of your estate until final distribution. For example, The Community Foundation will receive regular communications about the estate related to assets, expenses, taxes, and periodic accountings. The Community Foundation will execute documents, such as receipts, related to distributions and other estate transactions.

The team at The Community Foundation looks forward to working with you and your advisors to establish bequests to fulfill your charitable legacies.

 

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice. 

Big or small, every gift matters

Big or small, every gift matters

Simplicity, efficiency, and effectiveness have long been cornerstones of working with The Community Foundation to carry out charitable goals. Time and time again at The Community Foundation, we see how easily donors who’ve established a donor-advised or other type of fund are able to not only fulfill their big-picture charitable goals, but to act quickly to respond to critical needs in the community as they occur..

Indeed, the flexibility of working with The Community Foundation allows you to support the causes you love at a financial level that meets your charitable giving budget. Early in the year, many of our fund holders transfer highly-appreciated stock to their donor-advised fund, for example, at The Community Foundation so that they are prepared to activate their annual giving right away.

At every level of giving, philanthropy is a catalyst for improving quality of life. Indeed, anyone with a willingness to give can be a philanthropist. Whether you’re using your donor-advised fund to give $250 to a college or university, $2500 to a food bank, or $25,000 to an art museum’s endowment, you’re making a difference.

Consider that small donations from a large number of people can make a huge difference. This is especially true for responses to disasters and humanitarian tragedies. On the other end of the spectrum, very large donations to an organization can transform its ability to scale and serve a much greater population.

In so many ways, whether gifts are large or small or somewhere in between, philanthropy creates the margin of excellence that helps communities, families, and individuals thrive. The team at The Community Foundation is here to help you achieve satisfaction and impact with your giving at any level.

 

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice. 

Estate planning: One of the best ways to show you care

Estate planning: One of the best ways to show you care 

Money, mortality, and family relationships. Each of those topics alone can be tough for anyone to address head on, and when you combine them, it’s no wonder so many people put off setting up or updating their estate plans. Establishing a will, trust, and beneficiary designations forces a person to confront decisions about the ultimate division of their assets, and many people think estate planning is more expensive or more of a hassle than it really is.

But, getting your affairs in order–well before you need to due to age or illness–is truly a gift to your heirs. It’s extremely stressful for surviving spouses, children, and other loved ones to be faced with the emotional stress and workload of financial disorganization and uncertainty, on top of dealing with grief. Updating your estate plan also allows you to make arrangements for gifts upon your death to your favorite charities.

Many people choose to support their favorite charities in an estate plan through a beneficiary designation. As you work with your attorney and other advisors, be sure to review the beneficiary designations on your insurance policies and retirement plans. Pay close attention to tax-deferred retirement plans such as 401(k)s and IRAs. Typically, you’ll name your spouse as the primary beneficiary of these accounts to provide income following your death and to comply with legal requirements. But as you and your advisors evaluate whom to name as a secondary beneficiary of these tax-deferred accounts, don’t automatically default to naming your children or your revocable trust. You and your advisors may determine that naming a charity, such as your fund at The Community Foundation, is by far the most tax-efficient, streamlined way to make gifts to your favorite causes upon your death and establish a philanthropic legacy. A bequest like this avoids not only estate tax, but also income tax on the retirement plan distributions.

Please reach out to the team at The Community Foundation as you work with your advisors on your estate plan. We can:

–Review the many tax benefits of naming your fund at The Community Foundation as a beneficiary of your IRA or other tax-deferred retirement account

  • Provide bequest language for your will or trust, properly describing your fund using the correct legal terms
  • Provide language for a beneficiary designation, again properly describing your fund using the correct legal terms
  • Work with you to update the terms of your donor-advised fund so that your wishes are carried out following your death, whether that is naming specific charities to receive distributions or naming your children as successor advisors to your fund

We’ve all heard stories about the sad consequences of someone not having an estate plan, or even having out-of-date beneficiary designations. Estate planning documents, including wills, trusts, and beneficiary designations, often turn out to represent generous acts of clear distribution and conflict avoidance. An estate plan allows you to demonstrate how much you care about the people in your life as well as your charitable passions.

 

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice. 

Clean slate: Tips for charitable giving in 2024

Clean slate: Tips for charitable giving in 2024

A new year is such a great time to plan and reboot. Cliché as it may be to talk about resolutions this time of year, it’s tough to deny that January represents a clean slate for “to do” lists, goals, and your overall mindset.

As you think about your 2024 charitable giving goals and priorities, here are a few items to consider: 

You may have more capacity to give to charity.

The IRS issued inflation adjustments for important thresholds such as the standard deduction, Social Security cost-of-living adjustments, annual exclusion gifts, Required Minimum Distributions, Qualified Charitable Distributions, and levels of income for each tax bracket. Talk with your advisors about how these adjustments might impact your charitable giving goals–or even create opportunities for you to do more to support your favorite causes in 2024.

You may soon get a charitable deduction even if you do not itemize.

Many eyes are on the Charitable Act, which, if passed, would allow even non-itemizers to deduct certain charitable gifts on their income tax returns. This legislation has generated strong public support; 77% of Americans are reportedly in favor of the proposed “universal” charitable deduction.

You’ll likely still receive requests to fund disaster relief efforts.

Disaster giving is likely to remain high on the fundraising radar, meaning you will likely continue to get requests for donations to support disaster-related causes. As always, please reach out to The Community Foundation to strategize about effective deployment of your charitable dollars to help people who need it most in the wake of disasters and humanitarian crises. 

This is a good time to review your estate plan without being rushed.

The beginning of the year is an excellent time to be sure your estate plan is in order. Many people scramble at the end of the year to execute tax planning transactions, which is understandable, but this often leaves little time for a thoughtful, strategic evaluation of the various components that make up a comprehensive estate plan, including financial planning, retirement planning, tax planning, investments and wealth management, business succession planning, planning for disability, evaluating wills and trusts as children get older and needs change, and, of course, charitable planning. 

Reach out to the team at The Community Foundation as you and your advisors evaluate the steps you’d like to take in 2024. We’re here to help ensure that you achieve your charitable giving goals in the most tax-savvy and impact-minded way possible so that you can continue to help the causes you care about the most.

 

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice. 

Providing guidance for loved ones about your charitable giving

Providing guidance for loved ones about your charitable giving

Whatever their age or health status, most people are aware that they need to document important financial and personal information for loved ones, just in case the unexpected occurs. We’ve all heard stories about someone’s family member who passed away and left little, if any, information about where to find bank accounts, passwords, estate planning documents, life insurance policies, and other information. No one wants to leave their loved ones in the lurch with scant information, but it’s often hard to get motivated to write it all down in one place.

The start of a new year is an excellent time to get organized and provide your next of kin or key advisors with the information they’d need to take care of your affairs if something were to happen to you. The list of “must haves” includes the obvious: Will, trust, power of attorney, birth certificate and marriage license, titles to cars and boats, deeds to property, car keys, bank accounts, investments and advisor contact information, life insurance policies and contact information for the agent, funeral wishes, and, critically, passcodes and passwords to devices and accounts. 

What might not be obvious, though, is that you also ought to leave your loved ones with information about your charitable giving, including details about favorite charities you’ve supported over the years and information about your donor-advised or other type of fund (or funds) at The Community Foundation. In many instances, one member of a family has managed a family’s or a couple’s donor-advised fund, for example, while others have not been as involved in the mechanics. Be sure to include your funds at The Community Foundation on your list of key information, and include The Community Foundation’s contact information. You might also like to include a copy of your donor-advised fund agreement outlining successor advisors, as well as login credentials to The Community Foundation’s online fund portal. 

The team at The Community Foundation is happy to help you put together documentation about your donor-advised fund and charitable wishes to include with the information you provide to your loved ones so they are not completely lost as they navigate how to carry out your philanthropic wishes. Even better, we’re happy to work with you anytime to show your family members exactly how your donor-advised or other type of fund works so that they are involved and participating with you in your philanthropic pursuits during your lifetime.

Making it easy for you to share the joy of giving, and also helping ensure that family members have the information they need, are priorities at The Community Foundation. We are honored to work with you to help make your philanthropy easy, effective, and rewarding for everyone involved.

 

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice. 

Planned giving pointers

Planned giving pointers

As you’ve chatted over the years with the professionals working at your favorite nonprofits, you’ve likely heard the term “planned giving.” You may have even wondered what the term means–even if you have already structured so-called “planned gifts” to support your favorite charities!

Here are a few pointers to help break down the concept of planned giving, along with ways The Community Foundation can help you achieve your charitable goals.

It may help to think of “planned giving” in contrast to what’s sometimes called “current” or “annual” giving. For example, when you write a check (or, ideally, give highly-appreciated stock) to a charitable organization such as your fund at The Community Foundation, you’re transferring those funds right away in a relatively straightforward manner. You also may be making annual gifts to several charities, and from time to time you may also make gifts to a favorite charity’s endowment or reserve fund at The Community Foundation.

By contrast, a “planned gift” is more complex and forward-looking than current or annual support of your favorite charitable causes. Making structured future transfers to charity is often referred to as “planned giving” because, well, these gifts require planning. Here are examples of common “planned gifts”:

 

–A bequest in your will or trust allows you to name a charity, such as your fund at The Community Foundation, to receive a certain dollar amount, or a percentage of your estate, following your death. The team at The Community Foundation can work with you and your advisors to include a bequest in your estate plan using the proper bequest language.

 

–Beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, and especially on retirement plans, can be effective tools for making bequests. The team at The Community Foundation can work with you and your advisors to complete the paperwork required to properly designate your fund at The Community Foundation as the beneficiary of life insurance or IRA assets, including reviewing with you the many tax benefits of using retirement plans to fund your bequests.

 

–Setting up a charitable trust, such a charitable remainder trust, is often an effective way for you to ensure that money will flow from your estate to a charity, such as your fund at The Community Foundation, in a way that meets both your philanthropic intentions and your financial goals (including retaining an income stream and triggering an up-front charitable income tax deduction). A charitable gift annuity is another type of “split interest” arrangement, whereby you can retain an income stream and designate a charitable beneficiary to receive a future gift. Charitable trusts are complex, and we’re here to walk you and your advisors through the process every step of the way.

 

Please contact the team at The Community Foundation. We’d love to work with you to set up planned gifts to support your favorite causes, as well as work together to ensure that you’ll meet your charitable goals for current giving in 2024.

 

 

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice. 

Philanthropy keeps your clients sticky

Philanthropy keeps your clients sticky

Regardless of your business or industry, retaining your clients or customers is a key to success. And as the saying goes, it’s easier and less costly to retain or get more work from a current client than it is to find a new client.

As an attorney, accountant, or financial advisor who helps clients with tax and estate planning matters, you’re well aware of the fragile transition phase after a client passes away. Not only are many tax planning techniques activated (and validated!) after a client’s death, but you’re also navigating the understandably stressful and emotional factors that impact your work with the heirs to administer the estate, transfer assets, and file tax returns.

It’s no wonder that the death of a client presents business retention challenges. You’d love to continue representing the client’s children, but that can be a difficult discussion immediately following their parents’ death. It’s no surprise that the rate of advisor disconnect and abandonment from one generation to the next is remarkably high. The numbers behind this churn are staggering. Historically, studies have found that 75% of parents report that their advisor had never met their children, and 10% or fewer of heirs retain their family’s advisor post-inheritance.

The solution is, of course, for the advisor to establish a connection with the next generation well in advance of a client’s death. Certainly there are many ways to cultivate a next-generation connection—starting young, sending birthday or holiday cards, encouraging clients to include children in meetings where appropriate, offering to counsel children on career choices, and making networking introductions or job referrals. Few touchpoints, however, are as substantive and meaningful as philanthropy. After all, in most clients’ view, inheritances are about more than money. They’re about values, humanity, multi-generational connections, understanding wealth’s origins, and more.

Children who get to know their parents’ advisors begin to appreciate the advisors’ roles in not only making family wealth last across generations, but also leaving a family legacy to the community. The Community Foundation can help advisors create opportunities to discuss philanthropy with clients and their children and grandchildren. Here are a few examples:

  • Suggest that your clients consider working with The Community Foundation to establish easy-to-understand charitable giving tools, such as a family donor-advised fund, field-of-interest fund, or designated fund.
  • Encourage your clients to take advantage of The Community Foundation’s services for families, which include researching family members’ favorite causes, arranging site visits at local charities, and educational sessions about the basics of charitable giving and what’s going on in the community.
  • Share with your clients and their children materials provided by The Community Foundation describing tax-savvy charitable giving, including the benefits of giving highly-appreciated stock instead of cash to a fund at The Community Foundation to avoid capital gains taxes.
  • Ask The Community Foundation to help facilitate family discussions so that all family members  see how they can support causes that have been important to their parents and grandparents over the years as well as causes that are contemporary, relatable, or meaningful to them.

While any conversation with a client’s child or grandchild can increase the likelihood of retaining the family as a client across generations, the topic of philanthropy is an especially effective tool to create a common bond that keeps the family from becoming your former client.

 

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice. 

Three things every philanthropist must know about the gift and estate tax sunset

Three things every philanthropist must know about the gift and estate tax sunset

The shorter days of fall and winter aren’t the only sunsets creeping up on people these days. If you’ve met with your estate planning attorney and tax advisors recently, you’re probably aware that the gift and estate tax exemption–the total amount you can leave to family and other beneficiaries during life and at death before the hefty federal gift and estate tax kicks in–is about to drop, rather precipitously.

Without legislation to prevent it, on January 1, 2026, the exemption will drop from $12,920,000 per person (that’s the 2023 exemption) to about half of that amount, depending on annual inflation increases. As the date gets closer, tax planning decisions get tougher. Make aggressive moves now to activate gifts to family members? Or hold out to see if legislation intervenes to prevent the sunset?

Understandably, some philanthropists are beginning to get concerned about what their legacy might look like when (and if) the exemption drops. Add to that uncertainty the fact that a person’s date of death is among life’s great unknowns, it’s no wonder that for the relatively few taxpayers who may be impacted by gift and estate taxes—at least for now—there’s both concern and confusion.

Here’s a quick review of the facts:

  • For 2023, the estate tax exemption is $12.92 million per individual, $25.84 million per married couple, and for 2024, the exemption rises to $13.61 million and $27.22 million, respectively, adjusted for inflation, as recently announced by the IRS.
  • The IRS will issue inflation adjustments for 2025, too.
  • For 2026, the exemption is scheduled to fall back to 2017 levels, adjusted for inflation, which would roughly total $7 million per person.

Here are a few strategies you might consider evaluating with your tax advisors now to advance your estate plan and your philanthropy plan:

  • If you are a business owner, you could explore launching a gifting program to transfer shares of your business not only to heirs, taking advantage of the higher exemption, but also to your donor-advised or other fund at The Community Foundation. The objective here would be to begin intentionally reducing the value of your estate, assuming that the estate tax exemption will rise, while also executing a business transition plan that meets your overall intentions regardless of the tax laws. (As with any gift of a hard-to-value asset, securing a qualified appraisal is essential, as is timing; shares can’t be gifted to a charity if a sale is effectively already in process. The IRS watches both very closely.)
  • Annual exclusion gifts ($17,000 per gifting spouse per recipient in 2023, increasing to $18,000 in 2024) to family members and other individuals are an effective way to reduce the value of a taxable estate without eating into the lifetime gift and estate tax exemption. Indeed, many philanthropic individuals use the annual exclusion technique as inspiration for their charitable gifts. Gifts to charities are deductible for gift and estate tax purposes (as well as for income tax purposes) and therefore also serve to reduce the value of a taxable estate without eating into the exemption. Some philanthropists report that they like the idea of making annual exclusion gifts to each family member and then using their donor-advised fund at The Community Foundation to make annual exclusion-amount gifts to each of the charities they support.
  • Work with your tax advisors and the team at The Community Foundation to run various financial scenarios to determine whether the exemption sunset will affect you and if so, to what extent. If you find yourself looking at a potentially significant taxable estate in a couple of years, consider increasing your bequests to your donor-advised or other fund at The Community Foundation. Amounts passing to The Community Foundation or other qualified charity upon your death are not subject to estate tax. This means your charitable priorities will receive 100 cents on every dollar in the taxable portion of your estate, while your family and other beneficiaries could receive 60 cents on the dollar–or even less.

As always, the team at The Community Foundation is here to help you navigate the opportunities and pitfalls presented by changes in the tax law. It is our pleasure to work with you and your advisors to maximize your charitable goals.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice.