Charitable Lead Trust – The Wealth Transfer Engine

What is a charitable lead trust?

If you have a large estate and are looking for ways to pass more on to your heirs, a Charitable Lead Trust may be an excellent plan for you. A Charitable Lead Trust is a gift plan that allows you to transfer assets to future generations at a significantly reduced gift or estate tax cost, while providing a stream of income to Oxford University for a term of years. The technical name for this type of Charitable Lead Trust is a “Non-Grantor Charitable Lead Annuity Trust.” It is called a “non-grantor” trust because the assets eventually revert to non-charitable beneficiaries other than the grantor. It is called a “Lead” trust because it leads with a stream of income to charity before the assets revert to the remainder beneficiaries. It is called an “Annuity” trust because it provides fixed annual payments to charity during the term of the trust.

What are the advantages?

The main advantage of a Charitable Lead Annuity Trust (CLAT) is that the term and payout rate of the trust can be adjusted to reduce or even “zero out” the gift tax you owe on the asset transfer to your heirs. In other words, it is possible to make a large asset transfer to your heirs tax-free, while also benefiting Oxford University. In addition, any appreciation that takes place inside of the trust goes tax-free to your heirs. This makes a Charitable Lead Trust a powerful wealth transfer tool.