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Thanksgiving is not all turkey and football.

It is an opportunity to be thankful for all we have and thankful that we can meet again to see how our plans are working out.

If Uncle Charlie seems a bit off or Cousin Mel has finished off every six pack in the house and gone for more, we know it is time to revisit our plans, review our documents and consider what we need to do after the holidays so that next year our family can again gather for a happy Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is also a time when many people focus more on charity. If this is true for you, keep these three things in mind.

3 things to keep in mind with charitable giving at Thanksgiving

1. Restricting the use of the gift.

If you want to deduct the value of the gift on your tax return, be sure not to restrict the charity “from freely and effectively employing the transferred assets, or the income derived therefrom, in furtherance of its exempt purposes.” In many cases, this means that the charity must be free to loan or sell your gift.

2. Taking back the gift.

Some people want the right to take back the gift if they do not like what the charity is doing with it. Be sure that you and the charity agree in writing on how the charity will use your gift. You can agree that the charity must return your gift if it does not follow the agreement but the chance of that happening must be “so remote as to be negligible.”

3. Restricting the receipt of the gift.

You may want to match donations in order to encourage others to give. If so, your donation is tax deductible only when the conditions have been met and you actually give your gift. The “so remote as to be negligible” exception applies here, too.

Something to think about if you’re in a position to give a good amount to charity: Charitable Remainder Trust: Charity Begins at Home

 

Elder law attorney, Terry Garrett, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is an Approved Guardianship Attorney. She assists people in elder law, estate and special needs planning, guardianship and settling estates. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.

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