Food For Year-End Thought
So, what should we actually be considering? At the very least, if we can afford it, we should be making annual gifts (up to $26,000 per person if split with a spouse) to everyone within our spheres of beneficence - children and grandchildren anyhow, but sons- and daughters-in-law, too, if we see fit. If it's been a particularly good year, we can give beyond those amounts, as well, with the excess not triggering any tax, just reducing our lifetime exemptions somewhat.
Keep in mind also that we can pay school and college tuitions for our budding geniuses, or cover their uninsured medical expenses, in any amounts, without those funds being counted against our gifting totals. We just have to make sure the payments are made directly to the schools or medical service providers, not to our family members. That's not just a good idea, it's what the IRS requires for those direct payments to be exempt from gift consideration.
As for how to structure our generosity, we can simply hand over a check if the lucky recipient is an adult and seems financially responsible. If there are kids on the gift list, we can contribute to Uniform Transfers to Minors Act accounts for them - most banks can set those up if the kids don't already have them. Those accounts are supposed to be turned over to the kids at 21, but I hung onto my kids' funds for several more years, just for good measure, and they didn't sue me. Of course, securities or other assets can also be transferred, with their current market values used to determine the gift amounts.
Finally, if you want to be really creative, and you've got the assets to spare, you can set up an irrevocable "dynasty" trust for the kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, great-great (you get the picture), and use up even more of your lifetime gift and generation-skipping tax exemptions. Such a trust can go on nearly forever, without further estate or gift tax at each subsequent generation, and it can be a real resource for your progeny when they need a helping hand.
The point, though, is, don't let this fertile season of gift opportunities pass without at least considering the possibilities.