It is Christmastime! A time where traditions of warm apple cider, eggnog, milk and cookies for Santa, fruit cake, candy canes, gingerbread houses, Yuletide Carols and various traditions that have been handed down through generations. Family members look forward to Christmas with excitement and anticipation, especially the little ones with great expectations. A big part of Christmas is the gift giving that occurs among family and friends. You spend a great deal of time and money to pick out just the right gift for that special someone. Sometimes when it is difficult to find the perfect gift, gift giving becomes a burdensome chore. This year we have the ideal solution for your gifts to family.

You have been blessed with substantial assets. Lately, you have realized you need to begin passing on some of these assets to your heirs. You may have business assets (real estate, stock, etc.) that you do not need to hang on to, as your financial future appears secure.

Why is it a great idea to gift to heirs and family now versus later? Year end is a time when people seek to identify and capitalize on possible tax breaks. Added motivation comes from currently depressed assets values, resulting in significantly better outcomes. For example, 10 shares of stock gifted 5 years ago based on appraisal could possibly be the equivalent of 25 shares gifted today at a current appraisal. In essence, you can gift more for the same value or less than prior years. How will you benefit? You will receive some immediate and direct benefits while other benefits will be longer term and more indirect.

Another way to keep your gift appreciating or appreciated by your beneficiaries is to donate to charitable organizations dear to you. Actively giving is a proactive way of taking control and directing who and what organizations you will support during your lifetime. Not only is gifting to your favorite charities a satisfying experience, you gain a sense of accomplishment knowing you were instrumental in planting the seeds that will help others while fulfilling your compassionate wishes.

You may think that it is a little late to address gifting for 2009 – It is never too late! Get with your attorney and accountant; tell them your plans. They should be able to implement your wishes. If you feel rushed, use this time to decide how you want to allocate appropriate gifts in the future, and then DO IT! Make this holiday season a memorable one by making special memories for you and your heirs. If they deserve these gifts, they will definitely appreciate these appreciating gifts.

 Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to stay informed on how to overcome related succession planning issues.