Charitable Lead Trust (CLT)

Definition

The term charitable lead trust refers to an estate planning tool that first provides a charity with a source of income, eventually providing the remaining assets to a different beneficiary.  The near and long term beneficiary of a charitable lead trust is the inverse of a charitable remainder trust.

Explanation

A charitable lead trust (CLT) is an irrevocable trust that initially provides an income stream to one or more charities.  Eventually, the remaining assets are provided to an alternate beneficiary, which is oftentimes members of the donor's immediate family.  CLT's are an estate planning tool and can take the following two forms:

  • Grantor CLT:  allows the grantor / settlor to take an immediate charitable deduction for the present value of the future income stream provided to the charity (subject to limitations). Future trust income provided to the charity is then taxable to the grantor.
  • Non-Grantor CLT:  as the income is earned by the trust, it is taxable to the trust; however, the trust is eligible for income tax deductions.

Universities and large not-for-profit organizations typically offer information as to setting up a charitable lead trust.  The benefit of this arrangement is to initially reduce estate taxes, eventually transferring the assets to family members in a more tax-friendly manner.

Related Terms

alimony trust, accumulation trust, naked trust, charitable remainder annuity trust