With the current Gift tax exemption at 5 million dollars + 13,000 per person per year, many people are not concerned about making gifts or the taxes. It is important to remember that unless a gift tax return is filed with annual gifts to an individual exceed $13,000 there could be penalties and interest for the unreported gifts. Talk to your CPA about filing a gift tax return if you are giving an individual more than the exempt $13,000 per year.
In addition, gifts keep the current basis so to the extent that you give an appreciated asset, the recipient will have to pay the capital gains based on your cost. If they inherit the asset, there the beneficiary receives the asset as the cost basis as of your date of death. This can have significant advantages to highly appreciated assets.
Lets say you have Apple stock you purchased at $14 a share 12 years ago. It has split 3 times since then so your cost is less than $5 a share. With a value today of $350 / share and a value of $500 when you die.
Lets say you gift 1000 shares of stock today with the proper gift tax returns so that no tax is due. The cost basis would be around $4700 and it is sold after you die at a price of $500 per share. The recipient would have to pay tax on 495,300 of gains.
If you leave the asset to the beneficiary in a will or trust and it was sold at the same $500 per share, they would pay no tax (based on receiving a stepped up basis on the stock).
If the tax rate is 25% at that time, this would be a savings of $124,000.
Whether to gift assets or not is a complicated issue that should be discussed with your Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer and your CPA. Only by looking at your specific goals, objectives, and risks associated with each option can one make an educated decision as to what makes send for them. There are ways of providing those funds while protecting them at the same time that you may want to discuss.