“What exactly is ‘planned giving’?” As both a Board Member of the Southern Oregon Repertory Singers and a Legacy Giving Legal Partner of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, I am often called upon to explain what this is and how it works.
In its simplest form, planned giving enables individuals to make larger gifts to non-profits than they might otherwise be able to from their ordinary income. Planned giving can occur during life, at death, or a combination of the two.
There are three basic types of planned giving, each with their own benefits.
1) Outright Gifts. These are typically made with cash or appreciated assets, such as securities or real property. When appreciated assets are gifted to charities, the donor receives a charitable deduction for the full market value of the asset at the time of the gift and no capital gains taxes are triggered. However, once an outright gift is made, it is gone and irretrievable. Care must be used when making large outright gifts – we never know what is around the corner and if/when we may find that we need those assets to pay for our own care.
2) Gifts that Return Income to the Donor. Examples of these are charitable gift annuities, or charitable remainder trusts. Annuities provide fixed payments to the donor, starting at the time of the gift or at a later date. Charitable remainder trusts are a type of irrevocable trust providing the donor income payments during life, with the remaining assets passing to the charitable organization(s) named by the donor at the donor’s death. A tax deduction is available for the full, fair market value of the asset, less the present value of the income interest retained. And, as with all gifts of appreciated assets, no capital gains taxes are triggered by the transfer of the asset to the annuity or trust.
3) Gifts Payable at the Donor’s Death. Also called “Legacy Giving”, these are gifts made through the donor’s Will, Trust, or beneficiary designation. They may be a set dollar amount, or a percentage of the overall estate’s value. It is important to remember that gifts of specific dollar amounts are distributed before those set by percentages, and care must be used if making large monetary gifts so as to not unintentionally consume the estate, leaving little-to-nothing for the “residuary beneficiaries,” those we typically think of as receiving the bulk of our estate. No charitable deductions are available for this type of gift; however, it may affect one’s estate tax liability, especially for Oregon residents. The nice thing about this type of giving is that it does not affect one’s financial situation at all during life and is fully changeable until death.
It is imperative to seek professional tax advice before any type of planned giving is put into place. Working with a team involving both estate planning specialists, tax specialists, and financial planners will ensure that your ultimate strategy not only helps a charitable organization but protects your needs as well.