Bequests and Retirement Plan Beneficiaries

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The most common form of deferred gift to Duke is a bequest contained in a person's will or revocable (living) trust. The following language is an example of how a bequest might be worded to benefit Duke:

I give, devise and bequeath to Duke University, a qualified 501(c)(3) charitable organization located in Durham, North Carolina, _____ percent of my residual estate (or a specific bequest of $__________, or other personal or real property appropriately described) for (a specific college, school, program or unrestricted use), to be used in accordance with the terms of the most recent written directive I have signed with the University, and, if none exists, to be used as directed by the (e.g. President, Provost, Athletic Director, Dean of the School of ______) at Duke University.

Naming Duke as a primary or contingent beneficiary of a retirement plan (e.g. IRA, SEP, 401(k), 403(b), ESOP, etc.) may enable you to make a larger gift than you anticipated, because income and estate taxes are not imposed when plan assets are distributed to a charity. Your retirement account's plan administrator (the company that manages the account) can help you designate Duke or another nonprofit as a primary or contingent beneficiary on the plan's beneficiary form.

Example: Archie and Bob are in a committed relationship. Each wishes to ensure that the other is taken care of throughout his lifetime. They have approximately equal, independent assets that include retirement plans—assets that are likely to be sufficient for each partner’s lifetime. Recognizing that they have different philanthropic priorities, they have each named the other as the primary beneficiary of their respective retirement plans and named their own preferred charitable organization as a contingent beneficiary. By doing so, they have provided that the survivor will receive the assets of the first to die (along with income tax liabilities associated with those retirement assets). If the survivor doesn’t need the assets and doesn’t want to pay the taxes, he can disclaim the retirement account and it will pass tax-free to the owner’s designated charity.

To learn more about deferred gift plans at Duke, contact a member of our staff.