When developing your estate plan, you can do well by doing good. Leaving money to charity rewards you in many ways. It gives you a sense of personal satisfaction, and it can save you money in estate taxes.

A few words about transfer taxes

The federal government taxes transfers of wealth you make to others, both during your life and at your death. In 2021, generally, the federal gift and estate tax is imposed on transfers in excess of $11,700,000 ($11,580,000 in 2020) and at a top rate of 40 percent. There is also a separate generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax that is imposed on transfers made to grandchildren and lower generations. For 2021, there is a $11,700,000 ($11,580,000 in 2020) exemption and the top rate is 40 percent.

Note: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in December 2017, doubled the gift and estate tax basic exclusion amount and the GST tax exemption to $11,180,000 in 2018. After 2025, they are scheduled to revert to their pre-2018 levels and cut by about one-half.

You may also be subject to state transfer taxes.

Careful planning is needed to minimize transfer taxes, and charitable giving can play an important role in your estate plan. By leaving money to charity the full amount of your charitable gift may be deducted from the value of your gift or taxable estate.

Recent

Make an outright bequest in your will

The easiest and most direct way to make a charitable gift is by an outright bequest of cash in your will. Making an outright bequest requires only a short paragraph in your will that names the charitable beneficiary and states the amount of your gift. The outright bequest is especially appropriate when the amount of your gift is relatively small, or when you want the funds to go to the charity without strings attached.

Make a charity the beneficiary of an IRA or retirement plan

If you have funds in an IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan, you can name your favorite charity as a beneficiary. Naming a charity as beneficiary can provide double tax savings. First, the charitable gift will be deductible for estate tax purposes. Second, the charity will not have to pay any income tax on the funds it receives. This double benefit can save combined taxes that otherwise could eat up a substantial portion of your retirement account.

Use a charitable trust

Another way for you to make charitable gifts is to create a charitable trust. There are many types of charitable trusts, the most common of which include the charitable lead trust and the charitable remainder trust.

A charitable lead trust pays income to your chosen charity for a certain period of years after your death. Once that period is up, the trust principal passes to your family members or other heirs. The trust is known as a charitable lead trust because the charity gets the first, or lead, interest.

A charitable remainder trust is the mirror image of the charitable lead trust. Trust income is payable to your family members or other heirs for a period of years after your death or for the lifetime of one or more beneficiaries. Then, the principal goes to your favorite charity. The trust is known as a charitable remainder trust because the charity gets the remainder interest. Depending on which type of trust you use, the dollar value of the lead (income) interest or the remainder interest produces the estate tax charitable deduction.

Note: There are costs and expenses associated with the creation of these legal instruments.

Why use a charitable lead trust?

The charitable lead trust is an excellent estate planning vehicle if you are optimistic about the future performance of the investments in the trust. If created properly, a charitable lead trust allows you to keep an asset in the family while being an effective tax-minimization device.

For example, you create a $1 million charitable lead trust. The trust provides for fixed annual payments of $80,000 (or 8 percent of the initial $1 million value of the trust) to ABC Charity for 25 years. At the end of the 25-year period, the entire trust principal goes outright to your beneficiaries. To figure the amount of the charitable deduction, you have to value the 25-year income interest going to ABC Charity. To do this, you use IRS tables. Based on these tables, the value of the income interest can be high — for example, $900,000. This means that your estate gets a $900,000 charitable deduction when you die, and only $100,000 of the $1 million gift is subject to estate tax.

Why use a charitable remainder trust?

A charitable remainder trust takes advantage of the fact that lifetime charitable giving generally results in tax savings when compared to testamentary charitable giving. A donation to a charitable remainder trust has the same estate tax effect as a bequest because, at your death, the donated asset has been removed from your estate. Be aware, however, that a portion of the donation is brought back into your estate through the charitable income tax deduction.

Also, a charitable remainder trust can be beneficial because it provides your family members with a stream of current income — a desirable feature if your family members won’t have enough income from other sources.

For example, you create a $1 million charitable remainder trust. The trust provides that a fixed annual payment be paid to your beneficiaries for a period not to exceed 20 years. At the end of that period, the entire trust principal goes outright to ABC Charity. To figure the amount of the charitable deduction, you have to value the remainder interest going to ABC Charity, using IRS tables. This is a complicated numbers game. Trial computations are needed to see what combination of the annual payment amount and the duration of annual payments will produce the desired charitable deduction and income stream to the family.

For more tips like these, click here to sign up for our weekly email blog newsletter. If you would like to get better educated on Lockheed retirement strategies, click here to download our Free Report titled Retire with Confidence: The Top 4 Things You Can Do Now to Maximize your Lockheed Retirement. And, if you want to have face time with a Lockheed Retirement Specialist², you can click here to schedule an appointmentclick here to sign up for our Lockheed Retirement Workshop or click here to just give us a call (817) 210-3444.

Be sure and check back next week for more incredibly valuable information. Cheers!

Disclosures*

Financial Planning and Investment Advisory offered by SWMG, LLC a Registered Investment Advisor.

Lockheed Martin Retirement Specialist is not an official title or professional designation nor is it conferred by Lockheed Martin on any individual or company.

Our Complementary consultation and free report are for informational purposes only and provided free without any obligation to utilize or retain our investment advisory services.

SMWG, LLC is not affiliated with or endorsed by Lockheed Martin Corporation. Our expertise comes from working with LMT employees for several years and helping them to retire with confidence.

Investing involves the risk of loss, including loss of principal. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investment products are not FDIC insured, have no bank guarantee, and may gain or lose value. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that any specific investment will be profitable for a client’s investment portfolio.