People Discussion Meeting Give Help Donate Charity Concept

 

 

If you have highly appreciated assets like stock and real estate you want to sell, it may make sense to use a charitable remainder trust (CRT) to avoid income and estate taxes—all while creating a lifetime income stream for yourself or your family AND supporting your favorite charity.

A CRT is a “split-interest” trust, meaning it provides financial benefits to both the charity and a non-charitable beneficiary. With CRTs, the non-charitable beneficiary—you, your child, spouse, or another heir—receives annual income from the trust, and whatever assets “remain” at the end of the donor’s lifetime (or a fixed period up to 20 years), pass to the named charity(ties).

How a CRT works
You work with us to set up a CRT by naming a trustee, an income beneficiary, and a charitable beneficiary. The trustee will manage the trust’s assets to produce income that’s paid to you or another beneficiary.

The trustee can be yourself, a charity, another person, or a third-party entity. However, the trustee is not only responsible for seeing that your wishes are carried out properly, but also for staying compliant with complex state and federal laws, so be sure the trustee is well familiar with trust administration.

With the CRT set up, you transfer your appreciated assets into the trust, and the trustee sells it. Normally, this would generate capital gains taxes, but instead, you get a charitable deduction for the donation and face no capital gains when the assets are sold.

Once the appreciated assets are sold, the proceeds (which haven’t been taxed) are invested to produce income. As long as it remains in the trust, the income isn’t subject to taxes, so you’re earning even more on pre-tax dollars.

Income options
You have two options for how the trust income is paid out. You can receive an annual fixed payment using a “charitable remainder annuity trust (CRAT).” With this option, your income will not change, regardless of the trust’s investment performance.

Or you can be paid a fixed percentage of the trust’s assets using a “charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT),” whereby the payouts fluctuate depending on the trust’s investment performance and value.

 Tax benefits

Right off the bat, as mentioned above, you can take an income tax deduction within the year the trust was created for the value of your donation—limited to 30% of adjusted gross income. You can carry over any excess into subsequent tax returns for up to five years.

And again, profits from appreciated assets sold by the trustee aren’t subject to capital gains taxes while they’re in the trust. Plus, when the trust assets finally pass to the charity, that donation won’t be subject to estate taxes.

You will pay income tax on income from the CRT at the time it’s distributed. Whether that tax is capital gains or ordinary income depends on where the income came from—distributions of principal are tax free.

 If you have highly appreciated assets you’d like to sell while minimizing tax impact, maximizing income, and benefiting charity, give us a call, so we can find the best planning options for you.

Dedicated to empowering your family, building your wealth and defining your legacy,

Marc Signature Blogs

PARENT-CHILD-CUSTODY-91024Your children are your pride and joy. It is no surprise that at some point or another, every parent likely becomes concerned about who will care for a minor child or children if one or both parents die or are incapacitated. From a financial perspective, many parents turn to life insurance in an effort to take care of their family in the event of death. While it is true that life insurance is a particularly helpful financial tool to protect your loved ones, it is just as important to consider how to leave the proceeds to your minor children. Beyond this, you should also consider how to incorporate your retirement money (IRAs and 401(k)s) into your overall estate plan.

Once you decide to purchase life insurance you will name a beneficiary of the death benefits.  You also name a beneficiary on your retirement accounts.  But, if you fail to have a system in place and your children are minors at the time they inherit these assets, the court will appoint a conservator to “watch over” a minor person’s money. This process requires attorneys’ fees, court proceedings, supervision from the court, and will generally limit investment options — all costs and delays that will not help your children, but rather cost them a significant percentage of their inheritance. Another downside? Whatever’s left when the child turns 18 will be handed over, without any guidance or boundaries. This can impact college financial aid opportunities as well as open a ready opportunity for irresponsible spending that most parents would never intend.

How To Leave Assets?

There are several ways in which you can structure your life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and overall estate plan to benefit your minor children in the most streamlined way possible.

First, instead of naming minor children as beneficiaries, use a children’s trust to manage and use the money for the benefit of your children. This lets you designate someone you think will manage the money well, rather than leaving it to the whims of the court.

Second, select and name a guardian to handle the day-to-day care for your children. This person can be different than the person managing in the money, which can sometimes work well depending on the amounts involved and the different skill sets needed to manage money versus raise children.

Third, if you have a living trust, make sure you have properly funded the trust and aligned your retirement assets with the plan. If you do not yet have a trust, consider the benefits of one over will-based planning.  Both types of plans will allow you to designate how much and when your children will receive the money, but a trust-based plan will allow you to do so without court involvement.

Benefits of a Trust

Generally, parents list a minor child as the secondary or contingent beneficiary on life insurance and retirement accounts after first naming the surviving spouse as a primary beneficiary. This may work, as long as everyone dies in the “right” order and at the “right” time. But, it’s a gamble, and providing structure through a trust for these inheritances is a vastly superior option. Unlike guardianship or custodian accounts, where the proceeds must be handed over once the minor(s) turns a certain age, you can specify at which age your child receives the proceeds. This allows you to specifically designate how the money is to be used, so it will be available for important life events, while protecting your children from reckless spending. Ultimately you have more control with a trust, and your customized plan will provide the best protection for your family.

If you have any questions about how to leave assets to your minor children — whether it is a life insurance policy, a retirement account, or any other asset — contact us today so we can help you explore the options available to your family, determine what tax implications will result, and advise you on the best structure that will protect your family’s needs.

Dedicated to empowering your family, building your wealth and defining your legacy,

Marc Garlett 91024

inheritance and gifting 91024If you’re thinking about giving your children their inheritance early, you’re not alone. Studies suggest that these days, nearly two-thirds of people over the age of 50 would rather pass their assets to the children early than make them wait until the will is read. It can be especially satisfying to fund our children’s dreams while we’re alive to enjoy them, and there’s no real financial penalty for doing so if you structure the arrangement correctly. Here are four important factors to consider when planning to give an early inheritance.

  1. Keep the tax codes in mind.

The IRS doesn’t really care whether you give away your money now or later—the lifetime estate tax exemption is expected to be $11.18 million per individual in 2018, regardless of when the funds are transferred. So, whether you give up to $11.18 million away now or wait until you die with that amount, your estate will not owe any federal estate tax (although remember, the law is always subject to change). You can even give up to $15,000 per person (child, grandchild, or anyone else) per year without any gift tax issues at all. You might hear these $15,000 gifts referred to as “annual exclusion” gifts. There are also ways to make tax-free gifts for educational expenses or medical care, but special rules apply to these gifts. Your trusted advisor can help you successfully navigate the maze of tax issues to ensure you and your children receive the greatest benefit from your giving.

  1. Gifts that keep on giving.

One way to make your children’s inheritance go even farther is to give it as an appreciable asset. For example, helping one of your children buy a home could increase the value of your gift considerably as the home appreciates in value. Likewise, if you have stock in a company that is likely to prosper, gifting some of the stock to your children could result in greater wealth for them in the future.

  1. One size does not fit all.

Don’t feel pressured to follow the exact same path for all your children in the name of equal treatment. One of your children might actually prefer to wait to receive her inheritance, for example, while another might need the money now to start a business. Give yourself the latitude to do what is best for each child individually; just be willing to communicate your reasoning to the family to reduce the possibility of misunderstanding or resentment.

  1. Don’t touch your own retirement.

If the immediate need is great for one or more of your children, resist the urge to tap into your retirement accounts to help them out. Make sure your own future is secure before investing in theirs. It may sound selfish in the short term, but it’s better than possibly having to lean on your kids for financial help later when your retirement is depleted.

Giving your kids an early inheritance is not only feasible, but it also can be highly fulfilling and rewarding for all involved. That said, it’s best to involve a trusted financial advisor and an experienced estate planning attorney to help you navigate tax issues and come up with the best strategy for transferring your assets. Give us a call today to discuss your options.

Dedicated to empowering your family, building your wealth and defining your legacy,

Marc Garlett 91024

family loan 91024More and more, children and grandchildren are skipping the traditional bank and obtaining loans from parents or grandparents. Unfortunately, we have all heard stories of families torn apart because of disagreements over money. So, what can you do to make sure your intra-family loans help — rather than hurt — your family?

As far as estate planning is concerned, money you lend to others is legally an asset. If you have lent money to a family member, the presence of these assets in your estate can be problematic for your surviving family members. This is because your executor and successor trustee are under a legal requirement, known as fiduciary care, to collect the outstanding obligation, even if the other party is a family member.

If the amount of money that you have lent out is significant — and “significant” can be relative — it is important to document it as you plan your estate. For example, if you wish to forgive the debt there are special terms that must be included in your trust or will for this to happen. On the other hand, you may want the debt to be paid out of the inheritance the borrower is otherwise receiving. In that case, the payment of the debt from the inheritance must be addressed in your estate planning documents.

A Brief Loan Primer
A loan is a legal and financial arrangement where money is borrowed and is expected to be paid back with interest. Generally, a loan involves a promissory note, which is a signed document by the borrower containing a written promise to repay a stated sum of money to the lender in accordance with a schedule, at a specified date, or on demand. In some cases collateral, like real estate or other property, is used to secure the loan. Collateral is something pledged as security for repayment of the loan. If the borrower quits making payments, then the collateral can be taken by the lender.

Lending as an Estate Planning Tool
When properly structured and well documented, loans can be a smart estate planning tool for many families. This is because lenders (usually grandparents or parents) can essentially give access to an inheritance without any immediate gift or estate tax problems, generate a better return on their cash than they could with bank deposits, and borrowers (usually children or grandchildren) can take out loans at interest rates lower than commercial rates and with better terms. In fact, the Internal Revenue Service allows borrowers who are related to one another to pay very low rates on intra-family loans. Furthermore, the total interest paid on these types of transactions over the life of the loan stays within the family. If structured and documented properly, intra-family loans may effectively transfer money within the family, for the purchase of a home, the financing of a business, or any other purpose.

Sometimes loans can be used in sophisticated estate tax planning strategies as a way to shift assets into special estate-tax saving trusts. One variant of this technique is sometimes called an installment sale to a grantor trust. Although this sophisticated strategy and others like it are usually only appropriate for those with a net worth of at least several million dollars, other types of intra-family loans, perhaps for home improvement, an automobile purchase, or a business, can help families across the wealth spectrum.

There are a few important points to keep in mind regarding these types of loans: the loan must be well-documented, lenders should usually ask for collateral, the lender should make sure the borrower can repay the loan, and the income and estate tax implications should be examined thoroughly.

Deciding What You Want
While you were kind enough to help a member of your family by lending him or her money, do not let this become a legal dilemma in the event of your incapacity or after your death. Instead, use your estate plan to specifically express what you want to have happen regarding these assets. Before lending money, it is important to carefully consider how the loan should be structured, documented, and repaid. If you or someone you know has lent money and has questions about how this affects your estate plan, let us know and we’ll help you find the answers.

Dedicated to empowering your family, building your wealth and defining your legacy,
Marc Garlett 91024

gift giving 91024Although it’s the season of giving, no one wants to share with the IRS. Luckily, the law provides you many opportunities to give gifts to family, friends, and charities tax-free.  Some are straightforward, while others may require the help of a professional.

Your Yearly Coupons

Each year on January 1st, everyone receives what can be thought of as yearly coupons for tax-free gifts. There are several different ways you can redeem these coupons:

  • Annual exclusion gifts. These gifts are transfers of money or property that do not exceed the annual gift tax exclusion. These gifts can be given on one or more than one occasion throughout the year, the key is that you add up the gifts throughout the year. In 2017, you can give up to $14,000 ($28,000 for married couples) per recipient without owing any gift tax or filing a gift tax return. These gifts can be cash or property but they must be of a “present” interest. Without giving a “present” interest – for example, if you plan on using a trust or an LLC to make your gift, it’s best to work with a professional.
  • Pay medical bills. The IRS also allows you to pay an unlimited amount of someone’s medical bills, without worrying about the gift tax. However, the payment must be made directly to the doctor, hospital, or other medical provider in order to qualify.
  • Pay tuition. Additionally, you are able to pay an unlimited amount of tuition bills for the benefit of someone else, as long as the tuition is paid directly to a qualified educational institution. One big issue here is that the gift must be only for tuition – books, fees, living expenses, travel, and other costs of education do not qualify.
  • Give to charity. For those of you who are philanthropically minded, you can give as much money or property to a qualified charity as you want without worrying about the gift tax. As an added benefit, unlike the gifts above, you may also be entitled to an income tax deduction for the charitable gift.

Your Once-In-A-Lifetime Coupon

In addition to our annual coupons, we all have a once-in-a-lifetime coupon for taxable gifts, those that exceed or do not qualify for the annual exclusion, called the unified credit.  It’s called a unified credit because it unifies the gift tax with the estate tax into a coordinated tax system.  Unlike the annual coupons you read about above, once you spend the value of the unified credit coupon for a taxable gift, it’s gone.

Many people assume that because it says taxable gifts, they’ll have to pay the gift tax. Luckily because of the unified credit coupon, most people will never have to actually pay any gift tax. You only have to pay gift tax if your lifetime gifts exceed the unified credit coupon.  Under current law, the amount of the unified credit increases each year, but it never resets (unlike the yearly coupons you read about earlier).  In 2017, the unified credit amount is $5.49 million and is scheduled to increase to $5.6 million in 2018.  However, If you make a taxable gift, you are required to file a gift tax return with your income taxes.  Although the unified credit is currently applicable for gift and estate tax, it is worth noting that the gift tax continues on in the tax proposals being considered by Congress, even as an estate tax repeal is on the agenda.

When should I talk to an estate planner?

If you plan on making a gift in excess of $14,000 in 2017 ($15,000 in 2018), then you should talk with a trusted professional first. Sometimes the best way of making a gift is to just write a check, but other times giving in a trust, through an LLC, or with an undivided interest in property can make more sense and offer your recipient greater benefits (like privacy or asset protection).

While we don’t suggest you give away anything that you might need, if you do have some surplus, gifting programs are a fun way to see your loved ones enjoy your generosity – as long as you do it without drawing the attention of the IRS!

Dedicated to empowering your family, building your wealth and creating your legacy,

Marc Garlett 91024

legacy 91024One of the most important aspects of your estate plan is – or at least should be – protecting and passing on your legacy. And this coming holiday season is a great opportunity to reminisce about your family’s stories, values, and history because you’ll probably have your loved ones nearby.

While having those conversations is important, did you know you can also use a personal property memorandum in your estate plan to pass along special memories and stories about specific items that are meaningful to you and connect your family with the past?

What Is a Personal Property Memorandum?

California state law allows you to include a “personal property memorandum” in your estate plan. This supplemental document, specifically referenced in your will or living trust, lets you describe which personal property items you wish to leave to heirs, without having to call your lawyer and arrange for a meeting. You can handwrite or type this document, but it must be signed and dated to be valid. In conjunction with a will or living trust, a personal property memorandum can provide a roadmap for your executor regarding the distribution of specified items to your beneficiaries.

One important feature of a personal property memorandum is that you can change or update it whenever you like without the assistance of an attorney or notary. This freedom can be beneficial to you, because although you can also change your will as often as you like (and you absolutely should update it periodically to make sure it still reflects your wishes!), updating your will or living trust does require a visit to the estate planner’s office.

Another great reason to have a personal property memorandum in addition to your will and living trust is that your personal possessions likely change more frequently than other assets. For example, you probably add items to your closet more often than you add vehicles to your driveway.

What Can Be Included in a Personal Property Memorandum?

Not every asset can be distributed using a personal property memorandum! However, here are a few examples of assets that we commonly see people list in their personal property memorandum:

  • Furniture
  • Jewelry
  • Clothes
  • Books
  • Photographs and portraits
  • Important certificates (birth, marriage, death, citizenship/naturalization)
  • Collections (coins, stamps, dolls, figurines, etc.)
  • Other family heirlooms

Taking Your Personal Property Memorandum to the Next Level

We include a personal property memorandum as part of each client’s trust plan, but more importantly, I always suggest being a little creative with the process. Instead of just using the legal documents to pass on valuable heirlooms, I encourage each client to take a picture of every item of importance and write two paragraphs on the back of each picture.

The first paragraph is the story of why that item is meaningful. How, why, and when was it acquired? What is the item’s history? Why is the item so important to you? The second paragraph is the story of why you chose that particular person to receive the item. Why is continuing that item’s story on through them so important to you?

The picture makes it clear which items you’re talking about so there’s no confusion. The two paragraphs transform the gift from the realm estate planning documents and legalese into that of heart and soul, making the gift that much more meaningful to the recipient, and continuing the story of the item for future generations just as you ensure the story of your connection to the item lives on.

Giving It Away Now Versus Waiting Until Later

One option you always have is to give personal items to your loved ones while you’re still alive. You can share with them the accompanying stories as you’re making the gift. Indeed, this in-person exchange is often the surest way to know your wishes will be followed. If you do choose to give away possessions during your lifetime, you must be aware of any potential gift tax consequences that could arise for items of a larger value. But, generally any gift or series of gifts, within the calendar year, valued at less than $14,000 (up to $15,000 starting in 2018) can be given without concern.

Remember, verbal wishes alone are insufficient to gift personal property after you’ve passed away. So whether you decide to hand down your prized possessions now or later, know that one of the best gifts you can give your loved ones is the story behind a personal possession that connects it with you and your family forever. A good estate plan not only protects your family financially, it also protects and passes on the stories and heirlooms of your life’s legacy.

Dedicated to empowering your family, building your wealth and securing your legacy,

Marc Garlett 91024

frequent flyer miles 91024If you’re a frequent airline traveler, one of your estate planning concerns may be what will happen to your accumulated miles once you’re gone. They could be worth thousands of dollars, so you probably don’t want them to just disappear, but some airline policies say that’s exactly what will happen.

The law doesn’t consider airline miles assets that can be bequeathed directly to heirs, but there are still some steps you can take to help ensure your miles live on. It all starts with examining the airline policies in question.

Airline Policies Regarding the Transfer of Frequent Flyer Miles

Some relevant policies include:

  • American Airlines AAdvantage: “Neither accrued mileage, nor award tickets, nor status, nor upgrades are transferable by the member (i) upon death . . . . However, American Airlines, in its sole discretion, may credit accrued mileage to persons specifically identified in court approved divorce decrees and wills upon receipt of documentation satisfactory to American Airlines and upon payment of any applicable fees.”
  • Delta Airlines SkyMiles: “Except as specifically authorized in the Membership Guide and Program Rules or otherwise in writing by an officer of Delta, miles may not be . . . transferred under any circumstances, including . . . upon death. . . . ”
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards: “Points may not be transferred to a Member’s estate or as part of a settlement, inheritance, or will. In the event of a Member’s death, his/her account will become inactive after 24 months from the last earning date (unless the account is requested to be closed) and points will be unavailable for use.”
  • United Airlines MileagePlus: “In the event of the death or divorce of a Member, United may, in its sole discretion, credit all or a portion of such Member’s accrued mileage to authorized persons upon receipt of documentation satisfactory to United and payment of applicable fees.”

As you can see, policy terms vary, and they may vary even further depending on your agent. Airfarewatchdog.com has found differences between written policies and what customer service representatives told them over the phone.

How to Transfer Miles After Death

The main takeaway is that although airline policies may say they don’t allow miles transfers after death, employees often have the discretion to approve them. Still, there’s no sure way to know whether your airline will work with your loved ones regarding the transfer of your miles.

One way to better ensure your miles get transferred is to include a provision in your will that makes your wishes clear. This step is especially important if your airline requires a copy of a will as documentation, but it can be helpful in any event.

Another option is to leave your account number, login and password to the person you would like to be able to use your miles. Some airlines permit such transfers and usage of miles after the account holder’s death.

In either scenario, you should talk to your loved ones about your intentions so they know to pursue the issue in your absence. Also, if you’re the one trying to claim miles of a deceased person, you should understand the airline’s policies before offering information about the account holder’s death, as the account could be canceled immediately, leaving you with no recourse.

Final Thought on Frequent Flyer Miles

Frequent flyer policies can change at the whim of the airlines even as you are living, so another idea to keep in mind is to use the miles now and create experiences with your loved ones rather than plan to pass the miles on later. In doing so, you can be absolutely sure your miles aren’t lost; an added bonus is that you can also share moments none of you will ever forget.

Dedicated to building your wealth, empowering your family and securing your legacy,

Marc Garlett 91024

gift giving 91024January 1 wiped the slate clean for your tax deductible charitable contributions. So this is a great time to reassess your approach to donating to charities. Most of us respond to some of the appeals which come through various avenues such as unsolicited phone calls, campaigns at work, or church related charities. Whatever the source of the appeal may be, however, most people are inconsistent givers and fret when finding a way to say no.

A Better Way

A solution to the dilemma of when to give and when not to, is having a plan in advance. Knowing ahead of time how much you are willing to contribute to charities and those specific charities to which you will give makes it easier to deal with those groups not on your “list”. Hard-charging solicitors are more likely to back off when informed that you have a charitable giving plan to which you strictly adhere.

To begin creating your own personal charitable giving plan, first look at your past giving patterns and amounts. Did you take an itemized deduction? If yes, you can start with that amount and decide whether it is too high or too low. Many people do not keep track of all they have given, and some may even overstate the amount. Whatever the case, decide on an amount you want to give and then make a list of the organizations to which you will donate.

Once you identify the recipients, you can decide how and when you want to make your contributions. If cash flow is an issue, you might set up a schedule for contributions. Consultation with the charity may provide some knowledge of what works best for that organization.

An Even More Coordinated Approach

If you want to provide a one-time outlay that gets your charitable funds set aside, a donor-advised fund can be established through a financial services firm. This way, a contribution to the fund can be made and then disbursed at later dates. The tax deduction is based on the contribution to the fund rather than to individual organizations. This also allows other family members to contribute if they would like to simplify their charitable gift-giving, too.

A plan for charitable giving that specifies an amount and the recipients, in advance, takes away the angst of considering numerous solicitations that come randomly throughout the year. Knowing you have an action plan in place makes it that much easier to either ignore solicitations or provide a standard response.

Dedicated to your family’s wealth, health, and happiness,
Marc Garlett 91024

probate court 91024Many people are familiar with probate and all of the headaches which it entails. Whether they’ve lost a loved one or a friend, no one who goes through the probate process looks at it with a friendly gaze.

I often have clients come into my office having made an attempt to avoid probate on their own. Commonly, they have tried to avoid it by adding children’s names to real property, investment accounts, or bank accounts. While they may have succeeded in ensuring their children will avoid probate, they have usually created a much bigger problem.

When you purchase an asset (such as stock in a corporation or piece of real estate) you are assigned a “basis” in the property. Your basis is the value you paid for the property. For example, if you bought an investment property for $100,000, your basis in the property is exactly that: $100,000. If you sell the property for more than you paid for it, you have to pay capital gains tax on the difference.

If you give away your property (or add someone’s name to the deed), their basis in the property becomes the same as yours. In the scenario above for example, if a child’s name was added to a real property deed, the child’s basis in the property would be $100,000. When the parent dies and the child goes to sell the house, the child has to pay capital gains tax on the difference between their basis and what sales price of the property.

So how do you avoid forcing your children to pay capital gains taxes? By NOT adding them to the deed or account!

If your child inherits the property through a revocable living trust, your child will get a “step up” in their basis to fair market value at the date of your death. Thus, if the property above was worth $300,000 at the date of death, the child’s basis becomes $300,000 when they inherit it. This means that if your child goes to sell the property, they will pay no capital gains taxes.

Finally, gifting to your children has other dangerous pitfalls. If you add children’s names to property or accounts, you are subjecting those assets to potential risk if your child were to accidentally injure someone or run up a credit card.

By far, the safest way to pass your family’s wealth on to your children is through a fully funded revocable living trust. Setting up and funding a revocable living trust avoids probate, protects your children from unnecessary taxes, and gives you the ability to protect their inheritance from divorce, lawsuits, and creditors.

Perhaps you already know all of this. Perhaps you don’t. But if you’d like more information on protecting and passing wealth to your children, call our office to schedule an appointment or to RSVP for our next free public seminars (at The Lodge in Sierra Madre: Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, 6:00 – 8:00 pm & Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, 10:00 am – noon).

To your family’s health, wealth, and happiness,

Income TaxesApril 15 is upon us! It is not only the deadline for filing your state and federal income tax returns, but also the deadline for filing gift tax returns via IRS Form 709.

Many people are confused about the subject of gift taxes. While only two states — Connecticut and Minnesota — have a state gift tax, there is a federal gift tax you may need to be concerned about. Here are some common myths and the actual truths about gift taxes:

Myth 1: The recipient must pay taxes on gifts.

Reality: While the gift giver may face taxes on certain gifts, the recipient usually doesn’t. There are some circumstances, however, when that will not be the case. For example, if you receive a bonus from an employer or tips, these may be subject to income tax. If you are gifted property that has appreciated in value since the giver bought it, you receive the cost basis as part of that gift. But if you sell the property, you will be liable for taxes on the difference between the sale price and the cost basis (what the giver paid for it).

Myth 2: A giver must pay tax on gifts of over $10,000 per year.

Reality: The annual gift tax exclusion rate is currently $14,000 (it increases periodically), and you can give gifts of that amount to an unlimited number of individuals each year without having to pay gift tax. If you give to a charity or your spouse, you can give an unlimited amount without incurring taxes. The lifetime gift tax exemption for 2015 is $5.43 million per person and your annual gifts (so long as they are under $14,000 per person) don’t count towards that number.

Myth 3: Gift taxes can be avoided by loaning money at no interest and forgiving the loan.

Reality: The IRS requires that you treat a loan like a loan, not a gift. You will have to charge a fair market interest rate and put the terms of the loan in writing.

Myth 4: You can always deduct charitable contributions from your taxable income.

Reality: Charitable contributions must be made to a qualified tax-exempt charity, and must be itemized. You can check the status of your charity on the IRS website with its Exempt Organizations Select Check Tool.

If you have questions about gifting strategies or anything else related to protecting and providing for your family, please let us know. We’re here to help.

To your family’s health, wealth, and happiness,
Marc Garlett 91024