Charitable Lead Trusts

Hands shaking over a financial deal.

A charitable lead trust is a gift where you give the income (or partial liquidation) an asset for a set period of time, after which time the remainder either returns to the donor/spouse or passes on to heirs.

If the trust remainder returns to the donor/spouse, it is called a grantor lead trust:

Savvy Donor: Donor Advised Funds

There are three types of CLTs. To learn more about each, read below.

Grantor Lead Trust

If the trust remainder returns to the donor or spouse, it is called a Grantor Lead Trust, which:

  • The gift generates an income tax deduction in year one.
  • The trust is not tax-exempt, so sale of assets are taxable to the donor-grantor.
  • Income to the charity is not deductible to the trust or the donor (it is accounted for in the year-one charitable deduction).

An icon depicting a lightbulb or idea.Gift Insight: GLTs might be used by a donor facing a high-tax year, such as a liquidation event, the last year of income before retirement, or a Roth conversion.

Non-Grantor Lead Trust

If the trust remainder returns to children or heirs, it is called a non-grantor lead trust, which:

  • Generates a gift tax deduction, applied against the projected remainder passing to heirs.
  • Receives income tax deductions equal to the payments to charity, offsetting any income earned by the trust; any annual income tax or long-term capital gains tax is paid by the trust.

An icon depicting a lightbulb or idea.Gift Insight: Non-Grantor Lead Trusts might be used by a donor wishing to pass amounts onto heirs greater than the Federal estate tax exemption — $11.58 million or more per person, or $23.16 million or more per couple.

Super-Grantor Lead Trust

If the donor of a Non-Grantor Lead Trust wishes to receive a year-one charitable deduction (like a Grantor Trust) but still have the remainder pass to heirs (like a Non-Grantor Trust), they can establish a Super-Grantor Lead Trust, which:

  • Reserves the donor's right to revoke the beneficiaries’ interest, which makes the Non-Grantor Trust be taxed as a Grantor Trust.

An icon depicting a lightbulb or idea.Gift Insight: Super-Grantor Trusts combine the beneficial income-tax benefit of a Grantor Trust with the beneficial passing of assets to children and heirs.