I spent 4 unforgettable years at the University of Missouri-Columbia learning about life and, in my spare time, picking up an undergraduate degree in finance. I still consider myself a Mizzou Tiger.
Many people have a similar college affiliation in their lives. It does not even have to be their alma mater – they may just like the school or football team.
Whatever your connection, when it comes time to thinking about leaving a lasting impact, you might want to consider gifting to a college. Here is a quick guide to make that happen. I have used Mizzou as an example because it has a sophisticated giving program and excellent educational materials.
Start by looking up the school’s planned giving website. For Mizzou, that is found at giving.missouri.edu. Their website has a handy banner where you can enter a gift amount and make an immediate donation. If you are thinking about a more thoughtful gift, then there are drop- downs labeled Support, Ways to Give, For Donors, About, Contact and Impact.
The Support tab breaks out Ways to Give into 3 categories: immediate impact, planned giving and income arrangements. Each category summarizes the benefits to you. For example, a gift with an immediate impact could be securities, defined as including publicly traded stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. The benefits cited are avoiding capital gains tax and making a tax-deductible gift.
The Ways to Give tab is especially helpful because it lists types of assets and where they might fall into categories. Immediate Impact contains checks, credit cards, securities, real estate, tangible property, and intangible property. These are assets that can be given now or left as a specific device in a will or trust. Planned Giving includes life insurance, bequest and beneficiary designation. These are assets that you could easily incorporate into your estate planning. Income Arrangement includes more sophisticated types of planning: charitable gift annuity, charitable remainder trust, pooled income fund and life estate.
As with most charitable donations, you can specify how you want your donation used. For example, you might want to honor a family member with a named dedication or support a very specific sub-division of a department.
After your initial research, you need to take the next step: contacting the college’s planned giving experts. The University of Missouri has a dedicated Gift Planning team who can review your goals and offer suggestions on how to best accomplish them. Your planned giving expert will do the heavy lifting of contacting any administrators to see what’s possible, as well as supplying the legal boilerplate when it’s time to set pen to paper.
From there, they’ll provide you with options to discuss with your financial advisor. “Planned” giving, despite the name, often includes immediate gifts with significant tax benefits for donors. Plus, making the plan ‘official’ usually comes with other benefits — for instance, MU’s “Jefferson Club” and “Legacy Society” honor those who have made the university part of their estate planning, even if that gift is still just a pledge.
John Marshall was one such alum; he’d graduated with a Geological Sciences degree from MU before finding success in the petroleum industry. By creating a charitable trust, he gained tax benefits — and gift club memberships — to enjoy during his lifetime. Upon his passing in 2014, that trust became a fund for the Geological Sciences department on campus.
The final step is to contact your attorney to incorporate your gift into your estate plan and leave a lasting legacy. M-I-Z-Z-O-U!
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Virginia Hammerle is in her fourth decade of practicing law. She is Board Certified in Civil Trial by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and an Accredited Estate Planner. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hammerle.com. This column does not constitute legal advice.