A Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT), which serves as a bridge between financial planning and philanthropy, fostering a sustainable avenue for long-term giving.

In the realm of legacy giving, trust funds have emerged as powerful tools for effecting long-lasting change. These legal entities allow donors to place their assets under the control of a trustee, who then distributes these assets to beneficiaries over time in accordance with the donor’s wishes. Trust funds provide an attractive combination of tax benefits, control over how funds are used, and the potential to create a lasting legacy.

There are several types of trust funds that can be utilized for different purposes, but the focus in the world of legacy giving often rests on two particular types of trusts: Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs) and Charitable Lead Trusts (CLTs). 

  • Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs)  are a popular type of trust in which a donor contributes assets that provide them with income over a specified period. At the end of this period or upon the donor’s death, the remaining assets in the trust are transferred to one or more charitable organizations. This allows the donor to receive an income stream during their lifetime while ensuring their philanthropic goals are met.
  • Charitable Lead Trusts (CLTs) on the other hand, take an alternate approach. These trusts provide income to one or more charitable organizations for a specific period, after which the remaining assets are transferred to non-charitable beneficiaries, typically family members. This unique structure allows donors to balance their philanthropic activities with their estate planning needs, providing for their loved ones while still making a significant impact on their chosen causes.
Within the category of Charitable Lead Trusts, we have two types of CLTs: the Charitable Lead Annuity Trust (CLAT) and the Charitable Lead Unitrust (CLUT).

  1. Charitable Lead Annuity Trust (CLAT): A CLAT pays a fixed annuity to the charitable organization. The charitable lead annuity trust is a set dollar amount determined when the trust is established and does not change over time. The beneficiaries receive whatever is left in the trust after the charitable lead term ends. Because the payment is fixed, the beneficiaries bear the risk of poor trust performance but also benefit from above-average trust performance.
  2. Charitable Lead Unitrust (CLUT): A CLUT, on the other hand, pays a fixed percentage of the trust’s assets to the charity, revalued annually. If the trust’s assets grow, the charity receives more; if the trust’s assets decrease, the charity receives less. The beneficiaries receive whatever is left in the trust after the charitable lead term ends. In this case, the charity shares in the trust’s investment risk and reward.

Considerations and Scenarios for Choosing a Charitable Lead Trust

The decision to set up a Charitable Lead Trust (CLT) instead of a Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) usually depends on several key factors, which might include the donor’s financial situation, their income needs, their tax situation, their estate planning goals, and their philanthropic desires. Here are a few scenarios where an individual might prefer a CLT over a CRT: 1. Wealth Transfer and Estate Planning:CLTs are often chosen when the primary goal is estate planning or transferring wealth to the next generation. This is because CLTs provide income to a charity for a specified period, after which the remaining assets are passed to the donor’s heirs. This structure allows the donor to reduce or potentially eliminate gift and estate taxes on the transfer of assets to non-charitable beneficiaries. 2. Lower Income Needs: If a donor has a high net worth and doesn’t need additional income during their lifetime, a CLT might be a better choice than a CRT. While CRTs provide an income stream to the donor or other non-charitable beneficiaries, CLTs provide income to a charity first, which can be more aligned with the donor’s goals if they don’t need the income. 3. Anticipation of Asset Appreciation: If a donor believes that the assets they are placing in the trust will significantly appreciate over the term of the trust, they might prefer a CLT. This is because the appreciation of assets in a CLT can pass to non-charitable beneficiaries tax-free after the trust term, making it a useful tool for wealth transfer. 4. Desire for Immediate Charitable Impact: If a donor wishes to make an immediate impact with their gift, they might prefer a CLT. In a CLT, the charity receives income right away for a set number of years, while in a CRT, the charity typically does not receive anything until after the donor’s death or a specified term. Remember that while these scenarios can guide a donor’s decision, each person’s situation is unique. It’s important to work with a trusted financial advisor or estate planning attorney when making these decisions to ensure the chosen trust type aligns with the individual’s specific goals, needs, and circumstances.

Leave a Lasting Imprint on Hearts & Souls

With a charitable bequest to Rabbi Meir Baal Haness tzedakah in your will, you set us up as your messengers to replace difficulty and sadness with joy for many years to come.

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Leave a Lasting Imprint on Hearts & Souls

volunteer for RMBH food distribution

With a charitable bequest to Rabbi Meir Baal Haness tzedakah in your will, you set us up as your 
messengers to replace difficulty 
and sadness with joy for many 
years to come.

Let’s Discuss Your Options

Benefits of Choosing Charitable Lead Trusts for Legacy Giving

Charitable Lead Trusts (CLTs) offer several benefits for those interested in legacy giving, making them an attractive option for donors. Here are some key benefits:  
  • Philanthropic Impact: ICLTs allow for an immediate and sustained impact on your chosen charities, as they receive an income stream from the trust for a specified term. This can provide consistent funding for a cause you care about.
  • Estate and Gift Tax Benefits: CLTs are an effective tool for reducing estate and gift taxes. The assets you place in a CLT are removed from your estate for tax purposes, and any appreciation of these assets passes to non-charitable beneficiaries without incurring additional estate or gift taxes.
  • Wealth Transfer: CLTs are a popular choice for individuals looking to pass wealth onto the next generation. After the charity’s income interest ends, the remaining assets in the CLT pass to non-charitable beneficiaries (typically the donor’s heirs) potentially with significant tax advantages.
  • Flexibility: CLTs can be structured as either a grantor trust or a non-grantor trust, each offering different tax implications and benefits. This allows donors to choose a structure that best meets their individual financial and estate planning needs.
  • Control Over Philanthropy: As a donor, you can specify the charitable organizations that will receive income from the trust, as well as the term for which these payments will be made. This level of control allows you to ensure your philanthropic goals are achieved.
However, it’s important to remember that while CLTs offer many benefits, they may not be the best choice for everyone. Individual financial situations, philanthropic goals, and other personal factors should be considered when deciding to establish a trust. As always, potential donors should consult with financial advisors or estate planning professionals to ensure that a CLT is the right choice for their legacy giving plan.

Steps to Establishing a Charitable Lead Trust

Setting up a Charitable Lead Trust (CLT) involves several key steps. Here is a general guide to the process:


  1. Define Your Goals: Before setting up a CLT, it’s important to understand your financial and philanthropic goals. Do you primarily wish to reduce estate taxes, transfer wealth to your heirs, or support a charity during your lifetime? The answers to these questions will influence whether a CLT is the right vehicle for you.
  2. Consult with Professionals: Setting up a CLT can be complex and should be done with the assistance of professionals such as an estate planning attorney or a financial advisor. They can help you understand the tax implications and legal requirements associated with establishing a CLT.
  3. Choose the Type of CLT: CLTs can be structured as either grantor CLTs or non-grantor CLTs. In a grantor CLT, the donor is taxed on the trust’s income, but can claim a tax deduction for the present value of the income stream to charity. In a non-grantor CLT, the trust itself pays taxes on its income, but the donor does not get an income tax deduction.
  4. Identify the Charitable Beneficiary: You’ll need to decide which charities will receive the income from your CLT. You can choose one or multiple organizations, depending on your philanthropic goals.
  5. Select a Trustee: The trustee will be responsible for managing the assets in the CLT, making the annual payments to the charity, and eventually transferring the remaining assets to the non-charitable beneficiaries. This could be an individual, a bank, or a trust company.

    Choosing the Right TrusteeSelecting a trustee for a Charitable Lead Trust (CLT) is a significant decision that requires careful consideration. The trustee’s role involves managing the trust’s assets, handling distributions to charities, and overseeing a range of administrative tasks. Thus, it is beneficial to choose a trustee with professional expertise, such as a bank, trust company, or law firm, due to the complexities of trust management, including investment oversight, tax reporting, and legal compliance.

    The potential trustee should be capable of fulfilling their duties impartially, particularly when multiple beneficiaries are involved, as they have to strike a balance between generating income for the charitable beneficiaries and preserving the principal for the non-charitable beneficiaries. Moreover, due to the potentially long duration of a CLT, a trustee should be chosen with the likelihood of stability and longevity in mind. It’s also crucial to understand any fees associated with professional trustees, as these usually comprise a percentage of the trust’s assets. Due to the significance of this role, consulting with a legal or financial professional when selecting a trustee can be highly beneficial.

  6. Transfer Assets into the CLT: Once the CLT is established, you’ll transfer assets into it. These can be a variety of assets, including cash, stocks, real estate, or other forms of property.
  7. Create the Trust Agreement: This document sets out the terms of the CLT, including the length of time that income will be paid to the charity, the amount or percentage to be paid, and who will receive the remaining assets once the trust term ends.
  8. Filing and Registration: Depending on the jurisdiction, you may need to register the trust with state or federal agencies, and there may be tax forms to file as well.

Setting up a CLT is a significant undertaking that should be carried out with the help of legal and financial professionals. They can help ensure you’ve considered all implications and are in compliance with all necessary laws and regulations.

Considering trust fund accounts for legacy giving can significantly enhance your philanthropic impact while simultaneously offering personal financial benefits. The choice of beneficiary is an integral part of this process, and organizations like Rebbe Meir Baal Haness Charities are highly deserving options to consider.

We work towards implementing vital social, economic, and religious improvements for the needy of Israel, and we rely heavily on the generosity of donors to sustain our operations. Your legacy gift can help us extend our reach, increase our impact, and bring about substantial, long-lasting change.

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