Charitable Estate Planning

Stetson is pleased to provide more information to you and/or your advisors as you act to complete your charitable giving plans. Please do not hesitate to contact Development and Alumni Relations at or 727-562-7818. 

Never become so engrossed in legal and tax complexities that you lose sight of the people and charitable organizations you want to help. If you believe in what we do at Stetson Law and you'd like to save on future federal estate taxes by leaving a gift to us in your estate plans, you can leave a lasting legacy in the most flexible way possible.

Economic conditions in recent months have made it more important than ever to make careful choices about how to spend, save, and give our resources. That is why we at Stetson Law especially appreciate your support. Best of all, your generous gift will help further Stetson Law's mission.

You may find that time spent determining the best ways to give to Stetson Law can help you stretch your charitable dollars. By carefully considering the form and timing of your gifts, you may discover you can make gifts your may not have thought possible. Below are some ideas that may be beneficial to you and your loved ones as you consider your charitable giving plans.

Enjoy Tax Savings

As you consider your charitable gifts for the remainder of this year, please remember that gifts made now can generate income tax deductions that could help reduce your tax bill for 2010. The amount of your savings depends on the tax rates and the portion of your gifts you are allowed to deduct. With proposed changes in federal tax laws, giving this year may never save you more.

If you are subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT), you may be surprised to learn that charitable deductions help reduce the amount of both the regular income tax and the AMT.

Deciding What to Give

Cash: Charitable gifts are most often made in the form of cash, checks, and electronic transfers. When you itemize your tax deductions, gifts of cash may be used to eliminate federal income tax on up to half of your adjusted gross income (AGI).

Securities: Giving securities (stocks, bonds, or mutual fund shares) that are worth more now than what they cost can bring additional tax savings. Such gifts are generally deductible from income tax on their full current value if they have been owned for longer than one year and they can be used to offset tax on up to 30% of your AGI. As an additional benefit, no tax is owed on capital gain that could be due in the event of a sale.

If, however, you have investments that are worth less now than they cost, consider selling them and using the cash proceeds to make a charitable gift to Stetson Law. This creates a loss you may be able to deduct from other taxable income as well as a deduction for the amount of the cash contributions. The combined deductions for the gift and the loss may total more than the current value of the investment.

Whether you make a gift in the form of cash or other property, any unused deductions may reduce your taxes in as many a five future years.

Other Ways to Give

• Gifts from retirement plans: Retirement plan assets can be a practical source from which to make a gift to Stetson Law. Unlike many other types of investment accounts, amounts withdrawn from retirement accounts can be taxable to you and eventually to your heirs if left to them.

If you are over 70½ and are required to take withdrawals from and IRA or other qualified retirement account, you may want to consider making a gift to the College of Law using all or a portion of your mandatory withdrawal amount. Giving in this way may result in little or no tax impact when you report the amount withdrawn along with an offsetting deduction.

Proposed legislation would also provide additional benefits for gifts made from traditional and Roth IRAs. Please check with your financial advisors for the latest opportunities that apply to your situation.

» View a Sample Letter of Instruction You Can Provide to Your IRA Plan Adminstrator (PDF)

• Gifts from other sources: A business, employer, family foundation or donor advised fund may provide other ways to maximize your gifts this year.

• A gift through your will or living trust: With changes in estate taxes in recent years, you may find you can now leave more to loved ones free of tax. This may also make it possible to give more for charitable purposes, both now and as part of your long-range financial plans. After providing for your loved ones, you can include a charitable gift to Stetson Law of a specific amount, a percentage of your estate, a certain property or "what's left."

If you would like to specify that Stetson Law is to receive a certain amount or percentage of your estate, particular assets, or the remainder of your estate after providing for heirs, please see examples of suggested Bequest Language (PDF).

• Gifts of life insurance: If you own life insurance policies that are no longer needed for their original purpose, the cash value of such policies may be a source from which to make gifts that can provide welcome tax savings today and may also result in significant state and/or federal estate tax savings in the future.

• Gifts that provide income for you or others: There are also a number of ways to make gifts today that provide you or others with increased income, current and future tax savings and other benefits for your lifetime or other period of time your choose.

The purpose of the above content is to provide general gift, estate, and financial planning information. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or other professional advice. For assistance in planning charitable gifts with tax and other financial implications, the services of appropriate advisors should be obtained. Consult an attorney for advice if your plans require revision of a will or other legal document. Tax deductions vary based on applicable federal discount rates, which can change on a monthly basis. Some opportunities may not be available in all states.