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When individuals begin to assess and plan their estates, two basic values often emerge. The first, quite naturally, is to take care of the important people in their lives. The second is to have their lives make a difference, to create a meaningful legacy for the causes and institutions in which they believe. To reach these goals, those who do plan their estates can receive valuable help from organizations, like the Kennebunk Land Trust, who provide no-cost, confidential estate planning and referral services for prospective donors.
There are many estate planning and tax incentive charitable giving opportunities available to all donors, including those whose estates are now exempt from taxes after the recent overhaul of the tax code regarding both gift and estate taxes.
The simplest, and most often utilized method of estate planning is a professionally crafted and individualized will that contains specific bequests to heirs and charities. However, wills can sometimes get caught in costly, even contested, delays in probate court and executorship. The final result may be something quite different than what was originally intended by the donor.
There are many ways for donors to avoid probate and executorship and also achieve their wishes for family and charitable beneficiaries.
If they so choose, donors can establish gifts during their lifetimes, thereby personally enjoying and sharing the benefits of their gifts. The advantages to family members and charities of these during-the-lifetime gifts (inter vivos) are plentiful.
Another excellent method of making a gift to a charity is called a life estate. The donors simply deed over their residence or vacation home to a charity, but they retain the right to live there as long as they wish. The life estate is not counted as part of the estate for tax purposes, is not subject to probate court or executorship, and it can provide significant income tax savings.
Estate & Gift Planning with KLT
Many charities, including the Kennebunk Land Trust, provide donors with estate and gift planning consultation and referral services at no cost. Taking advantage of these pro bono services enables the donors to sit down with professional estate planners with a good idea about what their options are in advance. These consultations can save on professional fees and can provide donors with a clearer understanding of how specifically they can help their families and the charities of their choice. Many charities that provide these confidential services will gladly share planned gifts with other charities that the donor wishes to support. If you are interested in setting up such a consultation with a KLT Estate Planning professional, please call us at (207) 985-8734 or e-mail.