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Happy Holiday Checks

By Dian Vujovich

There’s still time to stroke that holiday check and if you ask me, nothing says “Happy Holidays” better than a big fat check. Or two. Or three.

Okay, maybe a brandy new Mercedes E Class with a humongous red bow on top would come close but money makes for a holiday every day no matter what brand of sleigh you’re dreaming of.

Jane Brown, a financial wealth services attorney at Gunster Attorneys at Law in Palm Beach says, “If people are really looking to do some estate planning, gifting is the simplest method. And you don’t need to see an attorney— you can just get out your check book.”

She’s right, of course. Decide to give away the max, up to $13,000 from a single individual or $26,000 from a married couple, and you could make a bunch of people very happy: The individual or couple getting the gift tax exclusion and the individual or individuals receiving this no-tax-to-pay-on-it gift. Plus, in addition to the tax bennies for all, unlike charitable gift donations, there’s no paper work to be concerned with.

Anyone stuck for ideas about whom to gift might consider their children, their children’s spouses, their grandchildren, their great grandchildren, me. their spouse’s kids and family members, the people next door, cousins, aunts and uncles, the gardener, shirttail relatives, someone you just shared a martini with, people you like spending time with, the woman who does your nails, the check-out lady at Publix etc., etc. etc.

Like it or not,money gifts rock. That’s because they do can so much from helping to pay off things like college, medical and dental expenses to simply helping someone or some family out. And they are the gift that can keep rewarding the giver every year they write those checks.

“The first thing I ask people to focus on when they are considering different estate planning techniques, before they move on to the more advanced planning options, is if they are doing that (gifting), ” says Brown. “Doing so helps their money evaporate.”

That means the money goes out of your estate. Leaves it. Gets spent. Hence, is no longer a part of one’s taxable estate. “I think people lose sight of that,” she adds.

So get out that checkbook, start writing and surprise someone or two or three dozen someone’s with a gift of money. Bet you’ll be glad you did. And so will the naughty or nice recipients.

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