Goal: Make a large gift with little
cost to you
Benefit: Current and possibly future income tax deductions
There are several ways you can use life insurance as the basis for a charitable gift.
Making the Charity a Beneficiary of your Life Insurance Policy
You may wish to make the charity the beneficiary (or a contingent beneficiary) of a life insurance policy as a way to make a sizeable future gift. You retain lifetime ownership of the policy, keeping the right to cash it in, borrow against it, and change the beneficiary. A gift of this nature is treated much like a bequest made through your will. Because you retain the ownership of your asset (the policy), you will not receive an income tax charitable deduction for this future gift or for your premium payments during your lifetime. The policy's proceeds will be included in your gross estate, and your estate can take an estate tax charitable deduction.
You may wish to transfer ownership of a policy to the charity, or purchase a new policy with the charity as owner and beneficiary. If you make a charity the owner and beneficiary of a policy, you are entitled to certain tax advantages.Example:
The Walker children were very supportive of the idea. In fact, one of their children purchased a small whole life policy and designated the charity as the owner and irrevocable beneficiary. As a result, the annual premiums that are paid are a charitable deduction.
Replacement Using Life Insurance
A donor may make a current gift to charity and receive a charitable tax deduction. At the same time, the donor may purchase life insurance to replace the donated amount or perhaps, the amount after estate tax that the beneficiaries would have received. Depending on the circumstances, the charitable tax savings and any life income resulting from the gift may defray the cost of the wealth replacement insurance premiums.
John Abbott, age 67, wants to make a gift that will ultimately be used to purchase equipment for a charity he has supported for years, but he is also concerned for his children and their futures. He creates a 6 percent Charitable Remainder Unitrust for $100,000, which yields a tax savings to him of $13,307. He then purchases a $100,000 whole life insurance policy that will maintain his children's inheritance. His annual premium payments are $4,500, which he pays for the first three years from his tax savings and subsequently with the increased income from his trust.
As with all matters concerning estate planning, please consult your estate and tax specialists. Click here to return to Wills and Bequests.