News & Events

Image August 2022 Professional Advisor News

We hope that you are finding time to relax and enjoy travel and vacations this summer, though we know advisors like you are already thinking about the planning and tasks that need to be completed with your clients before year end. Proper philanthropic planning can be an important tool for your charitably-minded clients in an economic climate fraught with inflation, stock market volatility, rising interest rates, fears of a recession, and even fears of a new global health crisis.

We understand that factors like this are very much on your clients’ minds. To that end, the topics in this newsletter are designed to equip you with conversation starters and planning ideas to allow philanthropy to enrich your relationships with your clients as you guide them through challenging times. This month we’re featuring important reminders about bequests, legislative updates, a look ahead to 2026, and food for thought as you build estate and financial plans for clients who own highly appreciated real estate.

As always, please reach out. Our goal is to earn your trust in our team’s knowledge and expertise so that you will not hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call whenever a client mentions anything about philanthropy. Most of the time, we can help you serve the client. If we can’t, we will point you in the right direction.

Thank you for the opportunity to work with you and your clients to make this community a better place. We are grateful.

Jenn Owens
Jenn Owens
President and CEO

If you would like to receive this monthly newsletter directly by email, or if you have any questions about how we work with advisors and their clients, please contact our Director of Philanthropy Christy Cole.

Back to basics: Reminding clients about wills, trusts, and charitable bequests

August is national Make a Will Month, and the publicity surrounding this designation may prompt your clients to ask you about whether their affairs are in good order. Of course, making sure a client has established an estate plan and executed corresponding legal documents is a priority for any attorney, accountant, or financial advisor who practices in the field of estate planning, tax, or wealth management. Still, it’s always helpful to remind clients to keep their estate plans up to date and review their plans with you on a regular basis.  

Indeed, despite the many cautionary tales arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic, most Americans do not have a will. Even those clients who do have estate plans in place may not truly understand the difference between a will and a trust (and the reason they still need a will even if they have a revocable living trust). A client also may not understand that a charitable bequest can be part of an estate plan whether the client’s main estate planning vehicle is a will or whether it is a trust. 

Of the $485 billion given to charity by Americans in 2021, according to Giving USA, 9.5% of that giving came from bequests–that’s $46 billion. Giving USA’s data visualization tool illustrates the ebbs and flows of bequest giving, which has long been a significant component of philanthropy. 

Research reveals fascinating psychological factors behind a person’s decision to leave a bequest in the first place, which helps to understand the motivation for leaving a gift to a charitable organization in a will or trust. Not surprisingly, altruism has long been one of those factors. Bequests to charity are not a new idea. Examples of high profile estate gifts date back centuries. Some of your clients may be familiar with the bequests of Benjamin Franklin, who established testamentary charitable trusts dedicated to supporting Boston and Philadelphia tradesmen, and George Washington, who left bequests in his will to colleges and trade schools.

Our team welcomes the opportunity to work with your clients to establish bequests to your clients’ funds at the community foundation through a will or trust or through a beneficiary designation on a qualified retirement plan or life insurance policy, including providing you with proper bequest language to ensure alignment with your client’s intentions. Make a Will Month is also a good time to remind your clients that bequests of qualified retirement plans can be extremely tax-efficient. Funds flowing directly to a client’s fund at the community foundation from a retirement plan after the client’s death will not be subject to income tax or estate tax. 

We look forward to working with you to establish your clients’ philanthropic legacies. 

Summer legislative updates–and looking ahead to sunsets

Reconciliation legislation is back in play, and while it includes a few tax provisions (e.g., adding a corporate minimum tax and eliminating the carried interest tax break), the proposed legislation is far less sweeping than reforms proposed in earlier versions. Notably, though, the proposal includes $80 billion in budget increases for the Internal Revenue Service, which will help shore up the IRS’s expertise and pay for enforcement efforts to collect taxes. Taxpayers and their advisors can likely expect greater scrutiny from the IRS on complex or aggressive transactions in the years ahead if this legislation passes.

Philanthropic individuals and families and their advisors also continue to watch the status of SECURE 2.0 because of the enhancements it proposes to the rules for Qualified Charitable Distributions. SECURE 2.0 could pass through Congress by the end of the year.

While potential tax reform through budget reconciliation legislation may be top of mind for taxpayers and advisors, it’s also important to remember that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018 (which seems like a long, long time ago!) included several changes to the tax rules for individuals that are set to expire after the close of the 2025 tax year. Unless those provisions are extended, the sunsets could impact tax planning for philanthropic families and individuals. For example, the standard deduction will decrease by nearly half, adjusted for inflation. This means some clients may once again itemize their deductions, thereby influencing charitable giving income tax strategies. In addition, the estate and gift tax exemption amount, increased under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, will be cut down so that in 2026 the exemption amount will be approximately $6.2 million adjusted for inflation. This will impact not only estates valued above the current exemption amount of $12.06 million but also estates valued in the $6 to $12 million range. Because assets transferred through lifetime gifts and bequests to charitable organizations are not subject to gift or estate tax, philanthropy may be an effective tax planning tool for even more taxpayers after 2025.   

As your clients begin to set their philanthropic goals for the next several years, the team at the community foundation is happy to help structure long-term strategies to maximize not only your clients’ tax benefits, but also the benefits to the community. Our professionals are deeply familiar with the short-term, mid-term, and long-term needs of our community, as well as the nonprofits that are working to address those needs. Our experienced team works with you to help your clients support community needs now and in the future through clients’ donor-advised funds, field of interest funds, designated funds, and other vehicles established at the community foundation. We strive to align the interests of everyone involved: your client, the charities your client wants to support to improve our community, and you in your trusted role as the client’s advisor. 

Real estate, tax planning, and funding a family legacy

Average home prices in Northern Virginia have increased more than 10 fold over the past 40 years with the average home price climbing to nearly $1.1 million in April of 2022. Many of your clients who live in our region are well positioned to achieve their charitable goals, and to give more than they ever thought possible by making a gift of real estate.

Multiple ways to structure a gift

A fund at the community foundation can receive a tax-deductible gift of real estate in a variety of ways. An outright gift is always an option; lifetime gifts of real estate held for more than one year are deductible for income tax purposes at 100% of the fair market value of the property on the date of the gift, which also avoids capital gains tax and reduces the value of the client’s taxable estate. Other ways to give real estate include a bargain sale or a transfer to a charitable remainder trust which produces lifetime income for your client.

Keeping the family together

A gift of a family’s home to a fund at the community foundation doesn’t just provide tax benefits. The gift also helps your client overcome the emotional challenges associated with letting go of an asset that in many cases has strong sentimental value to the family.

By donating a home to a fund at the community foundation, a client can work with the foundation to extend the emotionally important, family-related dynamics that were previously linked to the house and/or the land, even after the foundation sells the property and the client’s fund holds the proceeds. For example, multiple generations of family members can serve as advisors to the fund and collectively recommend grants to charities that carry on the values held by the family. 

We are happy to help you and your client structure a gift of real estate to a fund at the community foundation and to create an opportunity for the client’s family members to continue to work together even after the property is sold. Please reach out anytime!

The team at the Community Foundation is a resource and sounding board as you serve your philanthropic clients. We understand the charitable side of the equation and are happy to serve as a secondary source as you manage the primary relationship with your clients. This newsletter is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice.

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