Review Your Gifting and Estate Plans

As we approach the end of the calendar year, you only have a few months remaining to take advantage of certain planning opportunities.

In this four-part series, we’ll cover a range of planning topics that can help you save on taxes as you work toward achieving your financial objectives. If you’re a corporate executive, you’ll find that some of these topics are particularly relevant to you as year-end gets closer.

In our fourth and final blog post of the series, we offer insights on why it’s important to review your gifting and estate plans while also ensuring that the plans are well coordinated to help mitigate tax obligations.

Ensure your estate planning documents are current

It’s good practice to review your estate planning documents at least once per year. This review includes your will, trusts, powers of attorney and advance medical directives. Are they still in accordance with your wishes and your current family situation (e.g., recent marriage or divorce)? Do you have new children or grandchildren? Do your beneficiary designations match your current objectives?

Remember that the original SECURE Act passed in 2019 changed the distribution requirements for individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k)s. Now, most non-spouse beneficiaries who inherit one of these accounts will be required to withdraw the funds within 10 years.1 Based on the potential tax burden for your heirs, you may decide to prioritize Roth conversions or do additional income tax planning. There are also strategies that can help you “preserve the stretch” for your IRA distributions.

Make gifts to your family or others

Because of what’s known as the “annual exclusion” in relation to gift taxes, you may gift up to $17,000 in 2023 per person without utilizing any of your lifetime gift or estate tax exemptions.2 If you’re likely to have a taxable estate, this is often a valuable way to transfer wealth over the course of many years. If you are married, you and your spouse may each gift $17,000 per year, meaning that each child, grandchild or other individual could receive $34,000 per year in gifts in this tax-advantaged manner.

If you’re concerned about creditor protection or control over the assets, talk to your estate planning attorney about whether a Crummey Trust, which is an estate planning technique designed to utilize the gift tax exclusion when transferring assets to another person, makes sense for you.

You may also superfund a 529 plan for up to five years of annual exclusion gifts per account beneficiary. In other words, if you are married, you and your spouse could jointly contribute up to $170,000 per child’s or grandchild’s 529 plan in 2023. If you’re single, the 2023 contribution limit is $85,000.3

Finally, don’t forget that you can pay unlimited qualified educational and medical expenses on behalf of others without incurring any gift tax, provided that you write the checks directly to the educational or medical institutions and not to individuals.4

Make gifts to use the current estate tax exemption

The lifetime estate tax exemption is $12.92 million per person in 2023. This exemption is scheduled to decline significantly in the years to come, potentially to less than half this level by 2026.5 Depending on the political situation, the exemption may be reduced even earlier.

The IRS has said it will not “claw back” gifts made under the current exemption amount.6 That means you could gift funds directly or via irrevocable trusts up to the $12.92 million limit7, and even if there’s a reduction in the future exemption amount, you won’t owe estate tax on those gifts that were made in previous years.

In addition to outright gifts, several estate planning techniques are available to freeze your estate value or pass along assets utilizing minimal amounts of your lifetime gift and estate tax exemptions. Your estate planning attorney and members of your advisory team can help map out a detailed plan designed to meet your financial, tax and estate planning objectives.

Here to support you

The opportunities for year-end planning are many and varied, and each brings its own complexity depending on your particular circumstances. Be sure to engage your Corient Wealth Advisor, as well as any tax and/or legal advisors you may work with, to determine what strategies are best for you.

Other topics in this four-part series:

  • Part 1: Coordinate Tax Planning with Your Advisors
  • Part 2: Optimize Your Retirement Plan Contributions
  • Part 3: Plan Your Philanthropy




Hope Carlson, CFP®, CAP®

Hope Carlson, CFP®, CAP®

Partner, Wealth Advisor

Hope is a Partner, Wealth Advisor in our San Diego office. She joined legacy firm Dowling & Yahnke in 2017. She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and holds the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP®) designation.

Prior to Dowling & Yahnke, Hope spent six years as the chief development officer at the Museum of Us, overseeing fundraising and marketing. She also served as the interim executive director for the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet in Balboa Park and for four years as a strategy consultant with the Boston Consulting Group.

Hope holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar, graduating in the top 5% of her class. She also obtained her Master of Music in Vocal Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia.

Trained as an opera singer, Hope is passionate about music and the arts. She lives in La Jolla with her husband and two daughters.

Michael Brown

Michael Brown

Partner, Wealth Advisor

Mike is a Partner, Wealth Advisor in our San Diego office. He has more than 25 years of professional experience advising clients on strategic financial matters, including business exit planning, tax planning, generational wealth transfers and estate planning, investment management, charitable giving and retirement planning.

Mike joined legacy firm Dowling & Yahnke in 2012 and was a partner at Deloitte prior to that. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certifications, is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Mike completed his undergraduate work at Oakland University (Michigan), where he majored in accounting and graduated summa cum laude. He grew up in Michigan and enjoys outdoor activities such as golf and skiing. Mike has been married to his wife, Jennifer, for more than 25 years and has two daughters.


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