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Questions and Answers on Florida Charitable Trusts

Q: Is a Charitable Trust just about giving?

A: No. A charitable trust is much more than just giving. A charitable trust is a complex legal entity that can help preserve your wealth and provide for the needs of your family in addition to leaving gifts to charity. 

Q: What qualifies as a charity for the purpose of a charitable trust?

A: To qualify as a charitable trust, the benefiting party must be a charity pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

If you plan on starting and operating a charity, it is highly recommend you have an attorney help organize and operate the charity to ensure that Federal and State laws are property complied with. 

Q: What happens to the principal in a charitable trust when I pass?

A: It depends of the specific type of charitable trust you establish.

The most common forms either have the income going to your established beneficiaries during your lifetime and the principal to the charity after you pass, or the income going to the charity during your lifetime and the principal to your designated beneficiaries when you pass. 

Florida Charitable Trusts

A Charitable Remainder Trust could address many of your personal financial goals while providing the ability for you to make a significant gift to the qualified organizations of your choice. Anyone who is subject to paying capital gain taxes on appreciated assets, whose estate is subject to estate taxes, would like to benefit charity, and has a need for income is a candidate to benefit greatly from a CRT.

A Charitable Remainder Trust is an irrevocable, tax-exempt trust with two parts: 1) the income interest, and 2) the remainder interest. The income interest is the income paid to the individuals who established the trust (or their designated beneficiaries) for their lifetime or a term of years. The remainder interest is the money remaining in the CRT when the trust terminates. The remainder interest is given to the qualified organizations (including family foundations and donor- advised funds) of the donor's choice as specified in the trust document.

The Benefits of a Charitable Trust Include:
  1. Tax-Free Asset Conversion: Through a Charitable Remainder Trust, appreciated assets may be sold free from the erosion of capital gains tax. Asset conversion is the most visible financial advantage of using a CRT.
  2. Current Income Tax Deduction: A gift to a CRT can provide you with a current income tax deduction that can offset all forms of income.
  3. Increased Cash Flow: You may own a highly appreciated asset that generates little or no income, but are reluctant to sell it because the capital gains tax could consume more than one-fifth of its value and one-fifth of the resulting income. The ability to sell the asset free from capital gain taxes enables a Charitable Remainder Trust to generate more income for recipients.
  4. Lifetime Cash Flow Planning: With careful design and investment management, the CRT can defer income for later distribution. This feature enables possible accumulation of income for retirement planning or for intermittent financial needs that may occur along the way. Income deferral can also enhance the value of the ultimate charitable gift.
  5. Retirement Planning and Asset Management: Among other things, retirement denotes reduction of management responsibilities, not only in the work place, but also with personal assets. The CRT not only provides the means to dispose of management intensive assets, it also supplies a mechanism to provide professional asset management during a person’s later years when it may be most needed or desired.
  6. Gift and Estate Tax Planning: The Charitable Remainder Trust offers you an effective alternative to the payment of gift and estate taxes. Amounts transferred to a CRT are not generally subject to gift or estate taxes. The combination of capital gains tax, gift tax and estate tax avoidance can be very compelling for those who wish to control their social capital.

In addition to the gift and estate tax savings generated by the trust itself, the cash flow created by the CRT can be coordinated with other estate planning techniques. The most common combination involves gifts of cash from you to an irrevocable trust or directly to family members who then use them to purchase life insurance. Commonly referred to as wealth replacement, the concept often enables you to provide a significant legacy to charity without disinheriting your heirs.

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