Gifting strategies may be used as a means of distributing your estate and effectively reducing estate taxes upon death. Most taxpayers can accomplish significant estate planning objectives simply by taking advantage of lifetime giving which includes making maximum use of the annual exclusion, lifetime use of the applicable exclusion amount and lifetime taxable gifts.
Considerations should be given to one or more of the following strategies when trying to minimize estate taxes and maximize the net distributions from your estate to family, friends and charities:
Grantor Retained Trusts
Allows you to remove appreciating property from your estate thus reducing estate taxes. Once the property is transferred to the trust, the grantor (donor) retains interest in the property for the term specified. The grantor receives payments based on the value of the assets in the trust. The property, including any appreciation in value, passes to the beneficiaries without further gift or estate tax consequences.
Charitable Remainder Trusts
Allows you to donate property and assets to a trust and reserve an income stream in the trust for a specified period. The trust provides an income to you or any designated non-charitable beneficiaries with the remainder interest being transferred to a qualified charity at the end of the term.
Charitable Lead Trusts
Allows you to designate charities to receive an income stream during term of the trust. At the end of the term, the ultimate beneficiaries are your heirs.