Will your favorite charity accept your donation?

If your estate plan includes non-cash charitable donations or liquid asset donations with restrictions, you may wish to discuss such planned gifts with the intended recipients before you finalize your plan. This is particularly important for donations that place restrictions on the charity’s use of the gift, as well as donations of real estate or other liquid assets. In contrast, if you are making a simple cash bequest, not contacting the charity might be the better approach. If you are not interested in immediate recognition, not contacting the charity about a gift will keep the charity off your front doorstep until such time as is appropriate to let them know.

Why a charity may reject your gift
Some charities have policies of rejecting gifts that come with strings attached — they accept only unrestricted gifts. And many charities are reluctant to accept gifts of real estate or other non-cash assets that may expose them to liability or require an investment in order to convert the assets into operating funds.

If a charity rejects your gift, the property will end up back in your estate and will go to any contingent or residual beneficiaries. If these beneficiaries are not other charities, rejection of the gift may create estate tax liability.

Reconsider donating real estate
Real estate is particularly risky for nonprofits. The charity may be exposed to liability for environmental issues, zoning and building code violations, and other risks. It may require a cash investment to pay the mortgage or maintain the property. And certain types of property — such as rental properties — can generate “debt-financed income,” which may cause the nonprofit to be subject to unrelated business income tax.
Even if a charity accepts gifts of real estate, it may place strict conditions on such gifts. For example, to minimize their liability, some charities require donors to place real estate in a limited liability company (LLC) and donate LLC interests. Another option is to donate property to a supporting organization that disposes of real estate on a charity’s behalf.

Call us first
If you would like to make charitable gifts through your estate plan, contact us and we can guide you on the advisability of contacting the charity and coordinating with them to ensure that your donation would be accepted. We can then help you make the proper revisions to your estate plan.

Jason Smolen and Daniel Ruttenberg Named ‘Power Players’ by SmartCEO



Co-founding Principal Jason Smolen and Principal Daniel Ruttenberg were honored during the 2014 Power Players Awards, presented by SmartCEO Magazine.

In 2013, Principal Kyung (Kathryn) Dickerson was named Attorney Power Player of the Year for Divorce, Domestic Relations, and Child Custody and Adoptions.

Every year, SmartCEO recognizes the region’s most enterprising attorneys, bankers and accountants for their leadership, accomplishment, innovation and success. Smolen and Ruttenberg are profiled in the September/October issue of SmartCEO magazine.

Jason Smolen Delivers Sage Advice in the Realty Times


In a recent article in the Realty Times, “The Reality of Realty: Avoiding Promises You Cannot Keep and Debts You Cannot Honor,” SmolenPlevy Co-founding Principal Jason Smolen urges people embarking on real estate deals to avoid making obligations they cannot meet.

By spending time with an experienced attorney before entering into a deal, you can anticipate pitfalls and challenges before they happen, Smolen adds.  With more than thirty years of experience advising real estate clients, he urges his clients to consider two key issues before they enter into a deal:  the potential consequences of making a promise they cannot keep and the recognition that agreements are binding and enforceable.  Also, it’s important to consider potential pitfalls and to carefully consider how debt will be handled within the agreement.  This counsel “levels the playing field and gives clarity to the question of whether or not someone should proceed with a deal,” says Smolen.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

Jason Smolen featured in SmartCEO Business Roundtable

Smolen-Jason-v4-JR-229x300SmartCEO magazine asked Jason Smolen, Principal of SmolenPlevy and 14 other top attorneys from Washington, DC to sit down to discuss the trials and tribulations that CEOs are facing in today’s business world. They addressed everything from real estate to intellectual property and gave out best advice on staying out of the court room.

Early in the discussion, Jason expressed the importance of diligence when it comes to intellectual property. In terms of protecting your business’ name, your copyrighted and trademarked work, you must monitor.

“You have to be very diligent enforcing it [IP]. It’s an area where if you can get away with something, you can get away with it for quite some time.”

He explains that enforcement is very important, especially if you’ve invested a great deal of money into it. If you want to protect it, you must continually monitor possible exposure.

In addition to intellectual property protection, Jason addressed exit strategies for CEOs. Planning how to get out, before you go in is the best strategy when buying or selling a business. Exit strategy is an early strategy- some of the best deals are done even before you buy.

“I see some of the best deals done when, in buying the business, they have an exit strategy.”

As the program progressed, they covered topics including mistakes made during hiring, contract workers, interview protocol, salary exemption, financing and even tips they’ve taken away from working with their clients. smartceo-logo