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Good Counsel

The benefits of a gift of real estate

Wendy Chou, Director of Planned Giving for Stanford Medicine

By Wendy Chou
Director of Planned Giving, Stanford Medicine

When selling an appreciated asset such as real estate, capital gains taxes can be a legitimate concern. That’s one reason why many Stanford alumni and friends choose to use appreciated assets to make charitable gifts that can benefit the university now (through an outright gift) or in the future (through a planned gift).

Stanford has been the grateful recipient of gifts of many forms of appreciated assets including residential homes, commercial properties, and vacation homes. Like Mandana Varnoos, who is featured in this story, some alumni and friends find that it meets their goals to give property as a charitable gift rather than to continue owning and managing it. Generally, when considering a gift of real property, it is best if the real property is free and clear of debt.

There are different options for gifts of appreciated real estate. Some donors choose to give appreciated real estate to charity as an outright gift, and the property, or proceeds therefrom, can then be used to support the charity’s current purposes. Other donors decide to give a remainder interest in their home or vacation home. In these circumstances, they continue to live or use the property for the remainder of their lives, and then the property passes to charity. Outright gifts and gifts of remainder interests can help donors reduce their income taxes. In addition, many donors choose to name Stanford to receive gifts of real estate through their estate plans.

Mandana Varnoos decided to use an interest in her appreciated real estate to establish a charitable remainder unitrust, a type of planned gift that entitles the donor to a charitable income tax deduction, can help reduce capital gains taxes, and provides a steady source of income for life. Mandana worked with the university to ensure her future gift for Stanford from her charitable remainder unitrust would be used for a purpose at Stanford important to her, which in her case is neuroscience research.

If you wish to consider a gift of real estate, Stanford’s Office of Planned Giving is ready to help. Our knowledgeable staff can explore different options with you based on your unique circumstances, which you can then discuss with your advisors.  Our staff is happy to work with your tax and legal advisors as well.

If you have any questions about making a gift of real estate or any other type of planned gift to Stanford, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Office of Planned Giving. We look forward to working with you.