Smart Giving: The Importance of Year-End Gifts for Estate and Income Tax Planning

Elder Law | Dec 4, 2023 | Andrew H. Hook

As the year 2023 draws to a close, most of us are focused on spreading holiday cheer and celebrating with loved ones. While gift-giving is a tradition during this holiday season, it is essential to recognize that it can also play a crucial role in estate and income tax planning. Making strategic gifts before the year-end can have significant financial benefits, both for the giver and the recipient.

1. Utilizing Annual Gift Exclusion

One key advantage of giving gifts before the year-end is the opportunity to take advantage of the annual gift exclusion. In 2023, the annual gift tax exemption is $17,000 ($34,000 for a married couple) per person per year. It will rise to $18,000 ($36,000 for married couples) in 2024. The annual gift exemption allows individuals to gift up to a certain amount each year without triggering gift tax. By making the most of this exclusion, you can transfer significant wealth to your heirs or loved ones while minimizing the impact on your estate and avoiding potential taxes.

2. Reducing Estate Tax Liability

Estate taxes can take a significant chunk out of an individual’s estate when they pass away. In 2026, under existing law, the estate tax exemption will be reduced. Making gifts before the end of the year can help reduce the overall value of your estate, potentially lowering the estate tax liability. By strategically gifting assets over time, you can ensure that your heirs receive more of your hard-earned wealth, and less goes to the government in the form of taxes.

3. Taking Advantage of Tax-Efficient Assets

Certain assets may appreciate over time and gifting them strategically can have additional benefits. By giving assets that are expected to increase in value, you can transfer the future appreciation to your heirs. This not only helps with estate planning but can also be a savvy move for income tax purposes.

4. Establishing and Funding Trusts

Gifts can be a valuable way to fund trusts, providing financial security for beneficiaries and allowing for more control over the distribution of assets. Trusts can offer various benefits, such as minimizing estate taxes, protecting assets from creditors and marital claims, and ensuring that your wishes are carried out according to a predetermined plan.

5. Enjoying the Immediate Benefits of Giving

Beyond the tax advantages, giving gifts can bring joy and satisfaction. Watching loved ones benefit from your generosity and being able to actively participate in their financial well-being can be immensely rewarding.

Year-end gifts can be a powerful tool in estate and income tax planning. By being intentional and strategic in your giving, you can not only create a legacy for your loved ones but also optimize your financial situation.

Andrew H. Hook

President, CELA, AEP, CFP®
757-399-7506 | 252-722-2890
[email protected]

Andrew H. “Andy” Hook is the president of Hook Law, where he practices in the areas of estate and trust administration, elder law and estate planning, including tax, retirement, business succession, special needs, long-term care, and asset protection planning. Mr. Hook’s clients range from high-net-worth individuals with over $60 million in net worth to families just beginning to accumulate assets. A 1975 graduate of the University of Virginia’s School of Law, Mr. Hook is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) and a Fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). Mr. Hook is also certified as an Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP ® ), Accredited Estate Planner ® (AEP ® ), and an accredited attorney for the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for veteran benefits before the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mr. Hook is a former President of the Special Needs Alliance, a nationwide network of disability attorneys, a former Director of NAELA, and a former editor-in-chief of the NAELA Journal. 

Practice Areas

  • Elder Law
  • Estate & Trust Administration
  • Estate Planning
  • Asset Protection Planning
  • Long-Term Care Planning
  • Special Needs Planning
  • Financial Planning
  • Personal Injury Settlement Consulting
Make a Plan
Let's make a plan.
We help individuals and their families navigate the legal maze and implement plans to secure their futures. By working together, we're able to offer comprehensive planning, life care services and legal representation, giving you peace of mind for what ever life brings.