In the past, many people’s wills included a sizable donation to charity. Because the federal estate tax was so burdensome, including charitable bequests in a will was a good idea since it reduced the amount of tax the estate had to pay.
Now, however, the federal estate tax applies only to estates of well over $5 million. As a result, for a great many people, leaving money to charity in a will no longer provides any tax benefit.
On the other hand, the federal income and capital gains taxes have gone up, new surcharges have been added on investment income, and many states have raised their income and capital gains taxes as well. As a result, many people could reap significant tax savings if they made planned annual gifts to charity while they’re alive, as opposed to making bequests in a will.
If you have an older will that includes a significant charitable bequest, this might be a good time to reconsider whether you could save taxes by writing the charity out of your will and instead making regular donations each year.