Planned Giving News and Information
February, 2015
The following is intended as general information and does not represent legal or tax advice. The information presented is the view of the author. Individual circumstances vary - please consult your legal and tax advisors about your specific situation. To return to the general planned giving pages, please close this browser window. This News and Information section has been compiled by Future Focus.

We are rich only through what we give, and poor only through what we refuse.

Anne Swetchine

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6 Sustainability Investing Trends for 2015
Socially responsible investing is catching on and will soon spread to all types of investing.
“Today our world is changing faster than ever before–economic, geo-political, and environmental challenges abound,” wrote Warren Buffett in a recent report. “In times such as these, a company must invest in the key ingredients of profitability: its people, communities and the environment.”
More and more investors are following Buffett’s lead and widening their perspective beyond quarterly profits. Indeed, sustainable, responsible and impact investing (SRI) assets in the US grew 76% between 2012 and 2014, according to a survey by US SIF. Assets managed by investment firms considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues increased more than three-fold, the survey said. US institutional investors, including pension funds, expanded SRI assets by 77%, and assets held by private equity and other alternative investment funds considering ESG factors rose 70%. Read more.

Strategic Giving: 5 Steps To Get The Most Bang From Your Philanthropic Buck
ed note: this was written in December in time for end-of-year giving. But, as more and more emphasis is being placed on giving thought before giving money, the concepts are valid at any time.
At this time of year, when people are feeling particularly generous, nonprofits work hard to raise needed funds for the upcoming year. Although critically important to nonprofit budgets, most year-end giving is transactional rather than transformational. Givers give one time — devoid of strategy — and nonprofits receive a one-time donation. Next holiday season, the whole process starts over.
Donors who wish to truly maximize the impact of their giving must develop a strategic rather than a random approach to philanthropy. As with any important decision — investment, business or personal — a thoughtful longer-term strategy enables you to determine what you want to achieve and how to do so effectively. Read more.

Nonprofits Find Much to Like in Obama Tax Plan
A higher estate tax, as envisioned in a proposal released by President Obama this weekend in advance of Tuesday’s State of the Union speech, would spur more charitable giving in the form of bequests and charitable trusts, according to some nonprofit tax experts.
The estate-tax increase was included in a broad proposal to raise taxes on the most wealthy Americans and reduce the burden on poor and middle-income taxpayers. His proposal would increase fees on big banks that are highly leveraged and expand tax credits for the working poor, child care, and college tuition. 
President Obama’s proposal would raise the capital-gains tax, paid on inheritances of money and property, from its current rate of 23.8 percent to 28 percent for high-income tax filers. In addition, the tax plan would close what some tax specialists call the “trust-fund loophole." Read more.

A detailed fact sheet provided by the White House is available here.

Giving Makes Us Happy. So Why Do So Few Do It?
America has a generosity problem. Despite our relative wealth and voluntarist spirit, the majority of us clutch tightly to our pocketbooks and schedules. According to our data collected with the Science of Generosity survey, only 3 percent of American adults give away 10 percent or more of their income. This number is calculated by dividing the amount respondents reported giving away by their reported total salary.
What does this tell us? If we think that giving away 10 percent of one's income is an exceptional feat, then this number is a bit impressive. But if we think it is a good baseline measure of true financial generosity, then the vast majority of Americans are falling below the bar. For purposes of this article, suffice it to say that giving 10 percent of one's income is a good marker associated with enjoying better health, happiness, and purpose in life. Viewed this way, the vast majority of Americans (97 percent) are forfeiting the chance to enhance their well-being by practicing real generosity with their money. Read more.

2015 U.S. State Death Taxes – A Primer on Where They’ve Been and What’s Changing
As the U.S. federal estate tax exemption continues to increase to astronomical levels (the 2015 exemption will be $5,430,000 per person), several U.S. states that collect a death tax are either trying to become more attractive tax-wise to retirees, blowing it all out and keeping pace with the federal exemption, or making the state death disappear once and for all.

While the following U.S. states will collect some form of a death tax in 2014 – Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington – in 2015 eight states will see changes to their state death tax laws. Read more.

The 5 Golden Rules of Finance
I own one finance textbook, and I occasionally open it to remind myself how little I know about finance.
It’s packed with formulas on complex option pricing, the Gaussian copula function, and a chapter titled, “Assessment of Confidence Limits of Selected Values of Complex-Valued Models.” I have literally no idea what that means.
Should it bother me that there’s so much about finance I don’t know? I don’t think so. As John Reed writes in his book Succeeding: When you first start to study a field, it seems like you have to memorize a zillion things. You don’t. What you need is to identify the core principles—generally three to twelve of them—that govern the field. The million things you thought you had to memorize are simply various combinations of the core principles. Read more.

A Tip On How To Beat Inflation
Inflation is a word that strikes a nerve in a lot of us.  We know inflation is inevitable, pushing down the value of our dollar, but as individuals we don’t have any control over it.  Inflation can’t be measured by just one product or service, instead it’s a general increase in the overall price level of goods and services in the economy.  Inflation rates vary from year to year.  There are a number of significant measures of inflation, two of which you likely hear about often are the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) and the Retail Prices Index (RPI).  Such measures look at those goods and services that we all spend money on, and track the changes in price of these things over time. Read more.

Estate Tax Provisions For Married Couples in Recent Wills, Trusts May Be Obsolete
As the result of recent major tax law changes, the tax planning provisions incorporated into wills and trusts created for married couples only a few years ago are now, in many cases, obsolete. The first big change was a dramatic increase in the estate tax exemption. The federal government assesses a 40 percent estate tax on the portion of a decedent’s estate that exceeds his or her unused federal estate tax exclusion amount. Read more.


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Please note, individual financial circumstances will vary. The information on this site is meant as general information and does not represent legal or tax advice. The information presented is the view of the author. As with all tax and estate planning, please consult your attorney or estate specialist. All material is copyrighted and is for viewing purposes only. This News and Information section has been compiled by Future Focus. Please report any problems to webmaster.