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Charitable Lead Trusts

With a charitable lead trust, the donor transfers property to a trust that pays income to Curtis for a specific number of years or for the life of one or more individuals. The income can be the same amount each year (a charitable lead annuity trust) or a percentage of the trust's value, determined once-a-year (a charitable lead unitrust). When the term is up, the remaining trust principal is returned to the donor or paid to the donor's family, with estate and gift taxes reduced or even eliminated.

Benefits to donors

Charitable lead trusts are an attractive way to transfer property to children or other heirs at minimal tax cost because the gift to Curtis of the charitable lead interest produces a charitable-gift tax deduction.

Lead trusts can be arranged to produce a significant charitable income tax deduction for the donor in the year the trust is funded, although taxable income will be realized by the donor in subsequent years.

Each year's income payment from the trust to Curtis is a significant gift to support the ongoing training of exceptionally gifted young musicians or to create a lasting endowment at Curtis.

A lead trust can also be created under the donor's will (a testamentary lead trust) to generate an estate-tax deduction, preserve assets passing to the donor's heirs, and generate a series of gifts to Curtis.

A charitable lead trust can be a powerful tool in gift and estate tax planning, but the technical complexities require very careful consideration. Curtis’s director of principal gifts and planned giving is glad to work with donors and their financial and legal advisors to help determine if a charitable lead trust is the right plan for them.

This information is not intended to be legal advice. Curtis encourages donors to consult their attorney and financial advisors about the application of charitable annuities, bequests, and trusts to their particular situations.


Charles Sterne III, director of principal gifts and planned giving, (215) 717-3126