The Retained Life Estate – An Underutilized Gift Arrangement

By Dennis Bidwell February 2017 As development offices in non-profits of all sizes and shapes turn greater attention to attracting, closing and selling real estate gifts, I’m finding more and more charities are particular interested in exploring retained life estate possibilities with their donors. The basics: The owner(s) of a personal residence or agricultural property … Read more…

Attracting Real Estate and Other Non-Cash Gifts for Endowment and Stewardship

by Dennis Bidwell October 2013 Land conservation organizations are especially well-suited to develop robust Legacy Giving programs (I prefer that term to “planned giving”)  emphasizing real estate gifts.  I truly believe that such efforts hold the prospect of long-term financial security and permanence for these organizations through endowments and stewardship funds. Why? Three reasons. First, … Read more…

Case Study Conservation Easement → Retained Life Estate → $3 Million of Sales Proceeds

by Dennis Bidwell October 2013 Take-aways from this gift scenario: Anytime a donor or property owner indicates they might be leaving your organization an interest in real estate through their will, you should acquaint them with the pros and cons of the retained life estate as a way of accomplishing essentially the same thing, but … Read more…

Case Study: Gift of Texas Ranch Subject to Retained Life Estate

Case Study: Gift of Texas Ranch Subject to Retained Life Estate
by Dennis Bidwell
June 2012

Take-aways from this gift scenario:

1.  A retained life estate gift can accomplish essentially the same charitable results as leaving a property by bequest, with two important exceptions:the owners are entitled to a current income tax deduction when they donate the property subject to a retained life estate (unlike a gift by bequest); and the donors can enjoy the satisfaction, and praise, for making the gift in their lifetimes, rather than such recognition coming posthumously.

2.  In the case of a property gift likely to generate a very large tax deduction, the donor can make fractional interest gifts over time, thus spreading out their tax deductions over sufficient time to enable use of such large tax deductions.

3.  The non-profit recipient of the gift, based in Virginia,  was able to assemble a team of experts to structure and close this gift in Texas.  Such expertise had its cost, but was well worth it in relation to the ultimate value of the gift.

George and Jennifer Jackson were owners of a 150-acre ranch in Karnes County, Texas, that they used on the weekends and as a base of operations for their frequent birding expeditions.  Their primary residence was on the outskirts of San Antonio.

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