When you gift assets to heirs during your lifetime, the reward is being able to see first-hand how your assets help family members and loved ones while you are there to enjoy it. Gifting with warm hands must be done with care to avoid any negative tax consequences.
Most people prefer to maintain possession all of their assets, letting them go to the next generation only after they have passed away. But if a family member feels that they have more than enough money and property and others in the family are in need or would benefit from having access to the assets, then the older person can make gifts during their lifetime. This can be very rewarding to the benefactors.
When it comes to giving methods, there are many ways to skin the cat. This was the subject of a recent article in the Columbus Dispatch, "Guide to Life: Pros and cons of leaving inheritances to relatives." Nevertheless, some of those giving methods are more tax savvy than others.
The article mentions three such ways:
- Cash – A single person can give an individual $14,000 a year without tax consequences for the person receiving the gift. A married couple can give $28,000. This amount can be given to as many people as desired so long as no one individual is given more than the limit by the person giving the gift. Moreover, the giver must be sure not to have given more than his or her lifetime limit on "taxable" gifts (i.e., gifts made in excess of the annual gift exemption). That number is currently $5.43 million for a single person and $10.86 million for a married couple.
- Student Loans – When you pay off a loved one's student loan debt, that does not count against the $14,000 annual limit on gifting. Caveat: This only works if the money is given directly to the educational institution.
- College Savings – Money invested in a 529 college savings plan accumulates tax free and can be withdrawn tax free for qualified expenses.
These are just a few of the ways to make tax savvy gifts. Your estate planning attorney can help you with other techniques to benefit your family and favorite charities.
Reference: Columbus Dispatch (October 16, 2015) "Guide to Life: Pros and cons of leaving inheritances to relatives"
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