Understanding Charitable Lead Trusts

Understanding Charitable Lead Trusts

Understanding Charitable Lead Trusts

Charitable Lead Trusts are a sophisticated philanthropic tool that benefits both charities and donors.

Charitable Lead Trusts are a sophisticated philanthropic tool that benefits both charities and donors.

Charitable Lead Trusts are a sophisticated philanthropic tool that benefits both charities and donors.

Charitable Lead Trusts (CLT) are a sophisticated philanthropic tool that benefits both charities and donors. At their core,  CLTs are a type of trust designed to provide financial support to one or more charitable organizations for a set period, after which the remaining assets are transferred to non-charitable beneficiaries, such as family members. This arrangement supports philanthropic goals and offers significant tax advantages and estate planning benefits. Let us discuss the considerations of setting up a Charitable Lead Trust.

How Does a Charitable Lead Trust Work?

A Charitable Lead Trust is established by an individual (the grantor) who places assets into a trust. The trust then makes annual payments to a designated charity or charities for a specified term, which can be a number of years, the lifetime of one or more individuals, or a combination of both. Upon the conclusion of the term, the remaining trust assets are passed to the non-charitable beneficiaries, typically the grantor's heirs.

There are two primary types of CLTs: Annuity Trusts (CLATs) and Unitrusts (CLUTs). CLATs pay a fixed annuity amount each year to the charity, which is determined at the inception of the trust and does not change. CLUTs, on the other hand, pay a fixed percentage of the trust's assets, valued annually, which means the charitable payment can vary each year.

Advantages of a Charitable Lead Trust

Philanthropic Impact

The most immediate benefit of a CLT is its philanthropic impact. By setting up a CLT, donors can support their favored charities over a period, ensuring sustained support for the causes they care about.

Tax Benefits

CLTs offer several tax benefits, including potential income tax deductions, reduced estate taxes, and gift taxes. The income tax deduction is calculated based on the present value of the income stream promised to the charity and can be used up to a certain limit. Additionally, because the assets are transferred to the trust, they are removed from the donor's estate, potentially lowering estate taxes.

Estate Planning

CLTs can be an effective estate planning tool, allowing donors to pass assets to their heirs potentially at a reduced tax cost. The assets placed in the trust are eventually transferred to the beneficiaries, often with significant tax savings, particularly if the assets have appreciated over the term of the trust.

Considerations When Establishing a CLT

Setting Up and Managing the Trust

Establishing a Charitable Lead Trust can be complex and typically requires assistance from legal and financial professionals. The trust must be carefully structured to ensure it meets the grantor's philanthropic and financial goals while complying with legal requirements.

Selection of Assets

The type of assets contributed to the trust can significantly impact its effectiveness. Highly appreciated assets are often ideal for CLTs, as they can be sold within the trust without immediate capital gains tax, allowing the full value of the assets to work for both the charitable and non-charitable beneficiaries.

Market Volatility

For CLUTs, market volatility can affect the annual payments to the charity, as these are based on the trust's asset value, which is revalued each year. Grantors should consider this when choosing between a CLAT and a CLUT.

In conclusion, Charitable Lead Trusts offer a strategic way to balance philanthropic desires with financial and estate planning objectives. They enable donors to support important causes while potentially reaping significant tax benefits and providing for their heirs. However, due to the complexities involved in setting up and managing a CLT, it's crucial to seek advice from experienced professionals in tax, legal, and financial planning to ensure that the trust aligns with both philanthropic goals and personal financial planning needs.

(385) 286-5900


3507 N University Ave
Suite 125
Provo, UT 84604

©2020-2024 UI Ventures LLC, DBA UI Charitable Advisors. All Rights Reserved.
Portions © 2018-2024 University Impact. All rights reserved.
University Impact is recognized as a tax-exempt public charity as described in Sections
501(c)(3), 509(a)(1), and 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) of the Internal Revenue Code. EIN # 82-1504018