A charitable remainder trust (CRT) allows you to support a favorite charity while potentially boosting your cash flow, shrinking the size of your taxable estate, and reducing or deferring income taxes. In a nutshell, you contribute stock or other assets to an irrevocable trust that provides you — and, if you desire, your spouse (or others you designate) — with an income stream for life or for a term of up to 20 years. At the end of the trust term, the remaining trust assets are distributed to one or more charities you’ve selected.
You’ve likely spent a lot of time working with your advisor to plan your estate. While documents such as your will, various trusts and a power of attorney are essential, consider adding a “road map” to your plan.
If you have minor children, choosing a guardian to care for them should you die unexpectedly is one of the most important estate planning decisions you must make. It’s also one of the most difficult. So difficult, in fact, that avoiding it is one of the most common reasons people put off drafting an estate plan.
Although much of estate planning deals with what happens after you die, it’s equally important to have a plan for making critical financial or medical decisions if you’re unable to make them for yourself.
One advantage of inheriting an IRA from your spouse is that you’re entitled to transfer the funds to a spousal rollover IRA. The rollover IRA is treated as your own IRA for tax purposes, which means you need not begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) until you reach age 72. This differs from an IRA inherited from someone other than a spouse, when the entire IRA balance must be withdrawn within 10 years of the original owner’s death. (Note that different rules apply to IRAs inherited before January 1, 2020.)
It’s tax-filing season and you’re likely focused on your income or business tax returns. But don’t forget about another type of return. In 2020, if you made substantial gifts of wealth to family members you may have to file a gift tax return.
Filing a Gift Tax Return
Generally, a federal gift tax return (Form 709) is required if you make gifts to or for someone during the year (with certain exceptions, such as gifts to U.S. citizen spouses) that exceed the annual gift tax exclusion ($15,000 per person for 2020 and 2021). While an unlimited amount can be gifted to a U.S. citizen spouse, there’s a separate exclusion for gifts to a noncitizen spouse ($157,000 for 2020 and $159,000 for 2021). Also, if you make gifts of future interests, even if they’re less than the annual exclusion amount, a gift tax return is required. Finally, if you split gifts with your spouse, regardless of amount, you must file a gift tax return.
The return is due by April 15 of the year after you make the gift, so the deadline for 2020 gifts is coming up soon. But you can extend the deadline to October 15 by filing for an extension. (The IRS announced that the federal income tax filing and payment due date has been extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021. However, the IRS didn’t specifically address the gift tax filing deadline. Additional IRS guidance is expected soon.)
Being required to file a form doesn’t necessarily mean you owe gift tax. You’ll owe tax only if you’ve already exhausted your lifetime gift and estate tax exemption ($11.58 million for 2020 and $11.7 million for 2021).
When a Return Isn’t Required
No gift tax return is required if you:
- Paid qualifying educational or medical expenses on behalf of someone else directly to an educational institution or health care provider,
- Made gifts of present interests that fell within the annual exclusion amount,
- Made outright gifts to a spouse who’s a U.S. citizen, in any amount, including gifts to marital trusts that meet certain requirements, or
- Made charitable gifts and aren’t otherwise required to file Form 709 — if a return is otherwise required, charitable gifts should also be reported.
As President Biden settles into his new role as President of the United States, you may be wondering how the federal estate tax may be affected.
What you need to know...
On April 27, 2019, the Washington state legislature passed bill SB 5998, increasing Washington’s Real Estate Excise Tax (REET). The final version of the bill is expected to be signed by Governor Inslee shortly, and will go into effect January 1, 2020. Below is a summary of the current law and the changes you will see in 2020: