Hi. Here is some information on estate and gift taxes. There is a lifetime exclusion of $5.45 million. That means an individual can leave $5.45 million to heirs and pay no federal estate or gift tax.
The $5.45 million can be used to shelter the estate from taxation and/or can be used to defray the tax burden of giving more than the annual gift tax exclusion amount to any individual per year. This lifetime exclusion includes the $'s of the estate + any annual gifts he gives per individual that is over $14,000.
If he gives annual gifts of more than $14,000 per year, per individual, a gift tax return will have to be filled out; however, no tax will be owed.
There are unlimited gifts that are exempt from tax and the exclusion, such as paying for another person's medical or educational costs (the person leaving you the gift would have to pay directly to the school/doctor).
For the estate taxes, if applicable, if the person is a NYS resident, he has a NYS estate tax exclusion of about $5 million (effective in 2017). If he was a NJ resident, there is a very low exclusion - only $675,000.
The non-profit donations can count towards your deductions, as well, on your 1040.