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Sometimes overlooked as a planning tool: charitable giiving

Well-considered and effective estate planning can encompass a number of diverse elements, and frequently does of necessity for individuals and families that have carefully marshaled and amassed substantial savings over many years.

For instance, a will is often a central planning tool for asset management, as can be the proper selection of trust vehicles to protect and distribute assets both during life and following death. Guardianships and conservatorships make fundamental sense for some families.

So, too, does charitable giving, an estate planning tool that sometimes fails to receive due attention and discussion.

As has been recently noted by a number of financial commentators, a strongly performing stock market over the past couple years has appreciably raised the portfolios of millions of Americans. That inflow of wealth has been especially notable for families already commanding high assets that were committed to mutual funds and other investment accounts.

One investment article duly notes that the market’s rise has “raised the specter of stiff capital gains levies.”

The question attendant to that: What measured and thoughtful steps can be taken to best protect assets that are subject to capital gains exactions and to estate tax exemptions that are now capped at $5.25 million per couple and taxed at a 40 percent rate?

Contributing to donor-advised charitable funds, as well as making outright grants to charitable organizations, can offer multiple attractions and advantages to an estate.

Charitable giving is instantly appealing, of course, for any individual or family with an altruistic motive in promoting the goals of a certain organization. Employed as an astute estate planning tool, such giving can also help to minimize tax outlays.

An experienced estate planning attorney can discuss the potential advantages of charitable giving and other planning tools with any party interested in managing and protecting family assets.

Source: Investment News, "Spooked by higher taxes, investors give more away," Darla Mercado, July 22, 2013

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