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Building a Charitable Contribution in your Estate Plan

Estate Planning Charitable Donations

Have you ever considered incorporating a charitable donation into your estate plan?   Aside from the tax benefits, including charitable giving into your estate plan is a wonderful way to extend your legacy and show your generosity.  And contrary to public belief, charitable giving in your estate plan is not just for the very wealthy.   Through an estate planning attorney, there are several good ways to provide for your family while also giving to your favorite causes.

  1. Charitable Contributions through Your Will

The easiest and least complicated way to include a charitable contribution in your estate plan is through your will.  The amount you charitably contribute won’t reduce your income taxes, but it may decrease your taxable estate.  In addition, this may potentially increase the amount you’ll be able to leave to your heirs.  Talk with an estate planning attorney to learn more.

  1. Charitable Contributions through Your Retirement

You can also contribute to your favorite charity by donating a portion of your retirement account. Donating a retirement account is tax-effective and pretty straightforward.   A donor must simply designate the charity as the beneficiary on your account to receive the tax benefit.  Charities are exempt from both income and estate taxes.  Thus, the charity can receive 100% of the account’s value while your children or heirs receive their portion of the estate through non-retirement assets.  Consult with an estate planning attorney to learn more.

  1. Split-interest gift

Another way to make a charitable contribution is through a split-interest gift.  Through a split interest gift, you can donate assets to a charity but may also retain some of the benefits of holding those assets.  Here, the donor opens and funds a trust in the charity’s name and receives a charitable income tax deduction at the time of transfer.  Just like with other trusts, here the donor retains some rights to the property and may be able to avoid capital gains on the assets transferred.  Talk with an estate planning attorney to learn more about split-interest gifts.

Some ways to provide split-interest gifts include:

  • Charitable remainder trust (CRT): A CRT is an irrevocable trust that provides either a fixed payment or a fixed percentage to the donor (or other beneficiary) every year.  The term of the trust can for the life of the donor or a set number of years.   At a minimum, the donor must take annual payments from the trust no less than 5% but no more than 50% of the property’s fair market value.  At the end of the term, the remainder goes to the designated charity.  To maximize payments during the lifetime of the donor, the trust should appreciate value while receiving payments in the form of a percentage.   In contrast, if the trust will not appreciate in value, you’re better off receiving a fixed payment each year. Consult with an estate planning attorney to learn more.
  • Charitable lead trust (CLT): A CLT is the reverse of a CRT.  This revocable trust provides income to a charity for a set number of years, after which the remainder passes to the donor’s heirs or beneficiaries.  The CLT is a good choice for those who don’t need a lifetime of income from certain assets.  The trust is often structured to get an income tax deduction equal to the fair market value of the property transferred, with the remaining interest valued at zero to eliminate a taxable gift.  Contact an estate planning attorney to learn more about charitable lead trusts.
  • Pooled income fund (PIF):  Pooled income funds are trusts maintained by public charities. The trust is set up by donors who contribute to the fund.  Just like a CRT, the donor receives income during his or her lifetime.  After the donor’s death, control over the funds goes to the charity. The biggest benefit to a PIF is that contributions qualify for charitable income deductions as well as gift and estate tax deductions.  Talk with an estate planning attorney to learn more.

Charitable Giving is not just for the Wealthy.

There is a misconception that charitable giving is just for the wealthy; however, this is far from true.  Many people give to their alma mater or local church.  The amount does not need to be in the tens of thousands.  In fact, many people give smaller amounts by simply adding the charity in their will.  This blog is not meant to provide legal advice and is for informational purporses only.  For more information regarding wills, trusts, or charitable giving, contact Cleveland, Ohio law firm Baron Law, LLC.  Baron Law is your estate planning law firm in Cleveland, Ohio.  Call today for a free consultation at 216-573-3723.

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Can a Beneficiary Force a Trustee to Provide Information Contained in a Trust?

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Can a Beneficiary Force a Trustee to Provide Information Contained in a Trust?

In addition to the blog below, do you have questions regarding estate planning or trust administration?  Call Cleveland, Ohio law firm Baron Law LLC.  An attorney at Baron Law will be able to assist you and provide legal advice for all your wills and trust needs.

If you’re resident of Ohio, then as a beneficiary, you have a right to see a trust and can force the trustee to provide you a look.  Under Ohio law, the Trustee is obligated to give a copy of the trust to beneficiaries if they ask for it.  Cleveland, Ohio estate planning attorney Daniel A. Baron points to Ohio Revised Code Section 5808.13 which provides in part

“A trustee shall keep the current beneficiaries of the trust reasonably informed about the administration of the trust and of the material facts necessary for them to protect their interests. Unless unreasonable under the circumstances, a trustee shall promptly respond to a beneficiary’s request for information related to the administration of the trust.”

The Ohio statute further provides that a trustee must:

“Upon the request of a beneficiary, promptly furnish to the beneficiary a copy of the trust instrument. Unless the beneficiary expressly requests a copy of the entire trust instrument, the trustee may furnish to the beneficiary a copy of a redacted trust instrument that includes only those provisions of the trust instrument that the trustee determines are relevant to the beneficiary’s interest in the trust. If the beneficiary requests a copy of the entire trust instrument after receiving a copy of a redacted trust instrument, the trustee shall furnish a copy of the entire trust instrument to the beneficiary. If the settlor of a revocable trust that has become irrevocable has completely restated the terms of the trust, the trust instrument furnished by the trustee shall be the restated trust instrument, including any amendments to the restated trust instrument.”

Put more simply, if you’re a beneficiary to a trust, you simply need to ask and you will be provided a copy of the trust.  Conversely, if you’re the Trustee and receive one of the requests listed above, you likely have to comply.  Beneficiaries having problems getting information from a Trustee should refer to the above statute.  Trustees who fail to respond risk being removed as the Trustee.  In addition, if there is a law suit, the attorney’s fees would be taken out of the trust, thus reducing the value to all beneficiaries.

This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.  If you need an estate planning attorney, trust attorney, wills attorney, or other Cleveland, Ohio attorney contact Baron Law LLC at 216.573.3723.  You will speak directly with an Ohio attorney who can assist you with your legal needs.

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What is the Difference Between a Trust and a Will?

This blog will help you understand some of the core differences between a will and trust, but it is not intended to provide legal advice.  If you’re planning for your estate, contact Dan Baron at Baron Law LLC. Call and speak directly with an attorney at 216-573-3723.

Most people have heard the terms “will” and “trust,” but not everyone knows the unique differences between the two.  Both trusts and wills are useful estate planning tools, but can serve different purposes.  Most importantly, both can work together to create a complete estate plan.

The main difference between a will and trust is that only a will passes through probate.  (Visit here for additional information on understanding probate).  Generally, probate is a process that involves the court who oversees the administration of the will and ensures the will is valid. The court will also administer the property making sure it gets distributed the way the deceased wanted.   Thus, an authenticated will will pass through probate while a trust most likely will not.  Courts do not need to oversee the distribution of a trust, which can sometimes save time and money.  In addition, many people favor a trust because they can be very private.  On the contrary, a will can sometimes become public record.

A trust is a legal arrangement where one person (or an institution, such as a bank or law firm), called a “trustee,” holds legal title to property for another person, called a “beneficiary.”  A trust usually has two types of beneficiaries — one set that receives income from the trust during their lives and another set that receives whatever is left over after the first set of beneficiaries dies.

Another difference between a will and a trust is that a living will goes into effect only after you pass, while a trust takes effect as soon as it is created.  Through probate, a will determines who will receive your property at your death and it appoints a legal representative to carry out your wishes.  This person is called the trustee.   In comparison, a trust may be used to distribute property before death, at death or afterwards.  A will covers any property that is only in your name when you die. It does not cover property held in joint tenancy or in a trust.

Both wills and trusts each have their advantages and disadvantages.   For example, a will allows you to name a guardian for children and to specify funeral arrangements, while a trust does not. On the other hand, a trust can be used to plan for disability or to provide savings on taxes. (See for more information).

Hopefully this blog has helped you understand some of the differences between a trust and a will.  If you are planning for your estate, or would like additional information, contact Dan Baron at Baron Law LLC.   Call today at 216-573-3723. You will speak directly with an attorney who can help you decide whether a will or trust is best for your estate planning needs.

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What is Probate?