Why put off for tomorrow what you can do today?
That adage might ring true for your family, as you try to figure out how to enjoy giving funds to your family today, while potentially saving your family money down the line.
Here are some guidelines from Schwab.com:
• Take advantage of annual gift-giving limits to reduce estate taxes. Today’s annual tax break for gifts you make to individuals is $15,000, separate from the lifetime exclusion of $11.4 million per individual. A married couple is able to shield $22.8 million.
• You can give more than $15,000, but know the rules. You can overrun this amount without owing any taxes on the gift, but you need to inform the IRS that the gift exceeded the annual amount by filing a gift tax return. This amount of overrun will reduce your lifetime gift exclusion.
• You can make gifts to reduce the size of your estate without using your lifetime gift and estate tax exclusion. The IRS gives you a free pass when:
— You pay medical bills for another individual.
— You pay the tuition bills of a student.
— You make a charitable contribution to an exempt organization.
There is no annual limit on the size of these gifts. However, medical and tuition bill gifts must go directly to the institutions, rather than to the recipient.
• You can fund a 529 college savings plan. While the $15,000 annual gift limit comes into play, you’re allowed to bundle five years’ worth of $15,000 gift tax exemptions into an initial $75,000 contribution to one student’s 529.
If you die in the five years after making the gift, a prorated amount of your gift will be tossed back into your estate, but only for tax purposes. The money you gave stays in the 529 account.
• Talk with your tax and estate professional. Giving sooner might make more sense than waiting to bequeath your assets at your death.
Family trips can also be part of ‘giving while living’ strategy
Not all “giving while living” strategies have to do with money or inheritances. There’s also the gift of special times and making memories between generations of families.
If you’d like for your money to have an impact on your loved ones while you’re still living, consider taking a multi-generational family vacation including grandparents, kids and grandkids.
There are many interesting travel destinations, beyond Disney World, for large family groups. Be sure to pick a vacation venue that offers options for every age, and decide ahead of time who will pay for what.
You might want to look into renting a house, villa or condo for more value for the money than a traditional hotel room, providing more space for family fun and games. You might enjoy this experience so much that you plan a trip every year with your extended family.
Frommer’s Travel Guides offers these three-generation travel ideas:
• Dude ranches
• All-inclusive Caribbean resorts
• River rafting
• City explorations
• National parks/nearby town
• Bicycling trips