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Charitable Giving Can be Heart Smart

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Given some simple strategies for giving, whether it’s to family or to the community, I firmly believe people respond the same way.

Sometimes the act of giving can be complicated, especially when it comes to setting up foundations in the style of Bill Gates and the upper 1%. A recent Forbes article provides some alternatives you may want to consider. The article is titled “Five Ways To Be Charitable Even If You Aren't Bill Gates.” Luckily, the “five ways” do not require the complexities of family foundations.

Here are the Forbes tips for your charitable consideration:

  1. Give the gift of education. Have you thought about giving to your own children or grandchildren and in the form of a 529 college savings plan or a direct gift to the college?
  2. Give your IRS distribution to charity. Since you have to take your required minimum distribution anyhow, send it directly to a charity instead. This option is available for the remainder of 2012, but its future is uncertain. 
  3. Name your charity as your beneficiary on your retirement account. This option is appropriate if you’ve decided that any retirement funds left over should eventually pass to charity instead of loved ones. Be sure to designate your charitable beneficiaries accordingly! Note: The full amount of your retirement account given to charity is income tax-free. If left to a non-charity, then the full amount is taxable as ordinary income.
  4. Donor-advised funds. By giving to a donor-advised fund, you can give today, take the charitable deduction in this year’s taxes, but decide which charities to benefit next year or beyond. They are easy to establish too.
  5. Charitable gift annuity. Are you keen on the idea of receiving a guaranteed lifetime monthly income, especially as an assurance in old age? If you also want to benefit charity in the process, then consider hitting two birds with one stone by opting for a charitable gift annuity.

Be sure to consult with your financial, tax and legal advisors regarding these giving options in order to choose the best plan for your donations.

You can learn more about charitable planning on our website. Be sure to sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter to stay abreast of issues like these that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.

Reference: Forbes (September 20, 2012) “Five Ways To Be Charitable Even If You Aren't Bill Gates”

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