How to give tax-free gifts
Gift giving is one method people use to reduce the amount of money in an estate and to reduce tax debt on heirs when they pass on.
By following established gift-giving rules and regulations, you can reduce the amount of inheritance tax due on your estate. The money will then be passed on to your heirs. Through proper planning, you can save money that would have otherwise been paid in taxes.
Give monetary gifts to your spouse. Gifts of money or assets between spouses can be given without paying taxes. As long as your spouse is a U.S. citizen, there is no limit to the amount of money you can give to your spouse as a gift.
Set up an irrevocable trust fund for minor children. This will allow you to make a gift to a minor child each year without handing him an actual check. The minor child will then be given the money tax free when he reaches the age of majority set forth by the trust.
Set up a plan to give enough money to your future heirs while you are still alive. Each year you may give up to a certain amount of money to each person without being taxed. This amount varies by year and is set by the IRS according to inflation.
Plan your gift giving accordingly. If you plan on giving a large sum of money to your child for a wedding gift, for example, consider giving a gift directly to your daughter and one to your son-in-law to double the amount.
Have your attorney work bypass trust language into your will and your spouse's will. This will allow up to the maximum allotment of money to go into a trust to pass to your surviving spouse (with limitations) or your children. This money will never pass through probate and or be taxed.
Arrange to have charitable donations made to the charity of your choice upon your death. This will reduce the estate's overall taxable assets.
Pay for college tuition or medical expenses of loved ones, as long as you mail in the tuition or medical bill yourself. The money cannot be given to the individual to pay for college or medical expenses. You must be able to prove where the money went, which is done by paying the college or doctor directly.
Giving large amounts of money to your spouse as a tax-free gift is not always the best answer to reduce the total taxable estate. By giving large monetary gifts to your spouse to reduce your own taxable estate assets, you are increasing the amount of taxes potentially imposed on your spouse's own estate.
- Estate-planning attorney