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Donors Benefit From Using Charitable Remainder Trusts

Most charitable organizations receive and administer medium-sized gifts and are quite comfortable doing so. Since most donations don't exceed $25,000, donor tax and estate planning are not usually concerns.

When the size of the gift moves into the six-figure range, however, the degree to which the gift meets the donor's tax and financial planning objectives becomes increasingly important. Through the use of charitable remainder trusts (CRTs), your organization can tailor these large gifts to the special needs of the individual donor.

Remember that the prospect of these large donations is rare. However, when a large donation arises, it is important for you to understand how to meet the needs of the donor while accomplishing the objectives of your organization. In many cases, a CRT can help balance these two objectives.

    • In simple terms, a charitable remainder trust operates as follows:
    • The donor makes an irrevocable transfer of property to the trust.
    • The donor retains the right to receive income from the property or creates an income interest for another person.
    • The donor receives a partial income tax charitable deduction in the year of the gift.
    • The donor incurs no immediate capital gains tax on the transfer to and subsequent sale by the trust of appreciated, long-term assets.
    • At the end of the trust's term, the trust principal distributes to charity.

Flexibility is key

The beauty of the CRT is its flexibility compared to other gift arrangements. For example, the donor can choose the trustee or, in some cases, be his or her own trustee. The donor can choose the type of payment to receive (either fixed or fluctuating) and the frequency of the payment (monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually). Finally, the trust term can be measured by the life or lives of individuals living when the trust is created.

The investment strategy of the trust and taxable character of the income can be tailored to meet the unique needs of the donor. Also, the donor can choose one or more charitable organizations to share in the trust principal upon termination of the trust.

CRTs can be established by the donor without the help of the benefiting organization; however, the trust document is complicated and the donor's tax advisor may not specialize in charitable remainder trusts. Therefore, it is a good idea to have boilerplate documents of these trusts on hand that can be forwarded to the donor's counsel for tailoring.

Seek guidance for CRTs

Charitable remainder trusts, although complex planned giving mechanisms, can be a tremendous way for you to capture large gifts. Their flexibility and the fact that the donor can make the gift but still receive a lifetime income, makes them very attractive options.

Calculating the charitable deduction and the taxation payments are beyond the scope of this article but are nevertheless important subjects that you should address. Nonprofit organizations should not be afraid to invest some time and expense in becoming knowledgeable about CRTs.

Tax law and regulations associated with CRTs are complicated. If the document does not meet the criteria set by the Internal Revenue Service, the donor's tax deduction may be revoked. It is important that you seek professional guidance. If you have a donor who is interested in this type of trust, please call us.

Our office is ready to serve your needs. If we can be of assistance to you, please contact us.


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Lancaster, OH 43130
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The information contained in this publication is general and should not be applied to specific legal problems without first consulting your attorney. Actual resolution of legal issues depends upon many factors, including variations of facts and Federal and State laws. Ohio laws change daily as a result of legislation and court decisions. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice on specific subjects, but rather to provide insight into legal developments and issues that we feel could be useful.

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