Thursday, November 11, 2010
The NY Times reports that the combination of this year's hiatus for the federal estate tax and uncertainty regarding whether and in what form the Bush tax cuts will be extended into 2011 and beyond is creating headaches for charities working with estates and wealthy donors. For example, the article notes that disputes have arisen when individuals who died this year left the residue of their estate beyond the amount exempt from estate tax to charities, because there is no such residue even though the decedents clearly intended to benefit the named charities. Similarly, certain common planned giving techniques such as charitable remainder trusts can have unexpected consequences this year. The article also describes the use of "virtual endowments," where donors keep their assets during their lifetime but agree to make an annual payout to the charity of their choice as if the charity was holding assets as an endowment. Finally, uncertainty regarding future tax rates is complicating charitabel giving planning for both donors and charities.