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Make Giving a Family Tradition

The holidays are a favorite time of year to talk about philanthropy, says our new study

EACH YEAR, AS THE HOLIDAYS APPROACH, many people turn their attention to helping others and supporting causes close to their hearts. Parents often use this time of year to talk to their children about the value of generosity. In fact, according to the latest Merrill Lynch/Age Wave study, "Giving in Retirement: America's Longevity Bonus," Thanksgiving is the most popular time of year to have these discussions. (You'll find three suggestions for sharing your giving values with your children, below. Read "Giving Boom(ers)" for more on the findings of our study.)

3 Great Ways to Teach Your Kids About Giving
INVOLVE the children in your giving decisions.
VOLUNTEER as a family.
SET ASIDE part of your children's allowance for giving.

The study also found that people are looking for financial advisors who understand their giving priorities and values and can help them make smart giving decisions, both for their annual giving and for longer-term estate planning that involves trusts and other strategies.

"As you develop your end-of-year giving plans, coordinate your strategy with both your advisor and your tax professional," says Donald Greene, managing director of Philanthropic Solutions at U.S. Trust. While most donors would rather focus on the impact of their giving than on tax considerations, Greene points out that "by structuring your giving in a tax-efficient way you can potentially increase the amount of money you'll have available to give now and in later years."

Greene suggests the following two strategies to help make your giving more powerful—and tax-efficient.

Think beyond cash.
This year's donations could include gifts of both traditional and nontraditional assets, such as stocks or even a residence. If you contribute something that has appreciated in value, "you may be able to deduct its fair market value from this year's taxable income, without either you or the charity being hit with capital gains tax," says Greene.

Give now, decide later.
Consider using a donor-advised fund, or DAF. DAFs are popular charitable vehicles that can be set up quickly. They require little administration and allow donors to decide how and when funds will be distributed. And you don't have to choose your charity right away. "You'll be able to deduct the value of your gift now, and the money can be distributed to the philanthropic organizations themselves over time," Greene says.

Visit to download your copy of "Giving in Retirement: America's Longevity Bonus". Then review your giving strategies with your financial advisor

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