The federal government imposes a substantial tax on gifts of money or property above certain levels. Without such a tax someone with a sizable estate could give away a large portion of their property before death and escape death taxes altogether. For this reason, the gift tax acts more or less as a backstop to the estate tax. And yet, few people actually pay a gift tax during their lifetime. A gift program can substantially reduce overall transfer taxes; however, it requires good planning and a commitment to proceed with the gifts.
A Charitable Remainder Trust normally is used as a strategy for converting highly appreciated assets into income producing assets, without income tax liability. The Charitable Remainder Trust is an irrevocable trust with both charitable and non-charitable beneficiaries.