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Giving

MOST OF US assume that buying items for ourselves is a sure path to happiness. But research suggests that we get greater pleasure from buying gifts for others. In all likelihood, the same holds true when it comes to our wealth. Amassing money may be comforting. But there’s also tremendous pleasure in giving it away, whether to family members or to charity.

For gifts to family members, that’ll mean developing an estate plan, which might include making regular gifts during your lifetime. As you craft your plan, give some thought to end-of-life decisions, such as who will make medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

For charitable gifts, which we tackle toward the end of this chapter, you’ll want to consider the potential tax savings. Your gifts may even be part of your retirement-income strategy: You might purchase a charitable gift annuity or create a charitable remainder trust, both of which can give you a combination of tax benefits and regular income.

But whether the gifts are to charity or to family members, your primary motivation should be generosity, not the tax savings or other benefits. Yes, it’s nice if you get a tax deduction in return for your charitable contribution. But you’ll still end up with less money than you started.

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