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Financial Planning > Charitable Giving > Donor Advised Funds

Three tax traps for generous grandparents

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Between a sputtering economy and the approaching holiday season, your clients have plenty of opportunities to dote on their grandchildren. There are, however, some pitfalls to philanthropy. Here are some of the main culprits, and ways to avoid them, courtesy of the New York Times:

Cash gifts — The annual exclusion for gift tax exemptions this year is $13,000, unchanged from last year. If grandchildren are minors, their gifts may go into custodial accounts until they come of age, but your clients should resist the temptation to name themselves as custodians; if they do, the funds could be considered part of their estates.

College savings — Your clients can contribute as much as $65,000 at a time to a 529 plan, as long as they file a gift-tax return that treats the lump-sum as a gift spread over five years, the Times writes. If the donor dies within that time, the portion of the gift that reflects undistributed funds would be included in his or her estate.

Family loans — As heartless as it sounds, if your clients lend money to family members, they must charge the applicable federal interest rate to avoid being taxed themselves. The rates change each month — for November, it’s 3.92 percent for a long-term loan.