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Leaving a Gift in Your Will

Leaving a Gift in Your Will

Here you will find information to assist you in leaving a gift to Fresno State in your will. Below you will discover different ways to structure your gift and sample bequest language.

Making a gift to Fresno State in your will is easy. The most common way to make a planned gift is by bequest in your Last Will and Testament. Such a gift can be stated simply in anyone's will. Almost anything of value can be donated, including real property and securities.

Different types of bequests meet different needs. For each, you must use very specific language to convey your final wishes.

Gifts of a specific item or specified amount of cash are most common. Another popular way to make a bequest is to designate a certain percentage of the estate. Leaving a percentage of your estate usually alleviates the fear that nothing will be left for the children should the value of the estate be too small to accommodate all of the intended bequests.

As always, you are encouraged to check with your financial advisors to ensure that your gift will not result in excess taxation and to be sure that your bequest is consistent with the rest of your estate plan.

Let Us Know...

If you have already made arrangements to leave an estate gift to benefit Fresno State, we would be honored to add your name as a member of the Heritage Society. These supporters have informed us that they are investing in the future by including Fresno State in their estate plans. Your membership can be listed as "anonymous" if preferred. Liz Garvin, Director of Planned Giving, can be reached at egarvin@csufresno.edu or (559) 278-4038. He would be happy to discuss ways to ensure that your gift is directed to the specific college, department or university program that you designate.

Sample Bequest Language

General Bequests are legacies that come from the general value of your estate. They are usually cash gifts and commonly designate a fixed percentage of your overall estate. Such a bequest allows you to leave all or a percentage of your estate to your chosen recipient in the clearest and simplest way.

Example: A successful alumna of the graduating class of 1954 decided to leave an unrestricted cash gift of $10,000 to Fresno State. She also made a general bequest of 15% of her estate to the Henry Madden Library. Both provisions were listed as general bequests.

General Bequest Language:

"I hereby give and bequeath to California State University Fresno Foundation, IRS # 94-6003272, $_____ (or ___ percent) of my estate to be used for its general purposes (or state use restriction)."

Specific Bequests also come from the general value of your estate and usually designate a particular asset within your estate. This method allows you to leave a particular item from your estate to your chosen beneficiary in the clearest and simplest way.

Example: After serving as the Dean's assistant for 18 years, Jane retired from Fresno State and decided that she would leave her appreciated Disney stock certificates that she received as a child to the College of Science & Math upon her death. She listed the gift as a specific bequest in her will restricting the use for the purchase of new lab equipment.

Specific Bequest Language:

"I hereby give and bequeath to California State University Fresno Foundation, IRS # 94-6003272, my ______________ (list tangible property) from my estate to be held, administered and/or used for its general purposes (or state use restriction)."

Residuary Bequests are made when you intend to leave the residue portion of your estate to an individual or organization after the general bequests, specific bequests and other distributions designated in your will have been completed. This method allows you to leave a specific bequest of a family heirloom to one person and a general bequest of a percentage of the estate to someone else, while designating Fresno State to receive all or a percentage of your assets that remain after the other directives in your will have been fulfilled.

Example: After having spent his career in Plant Operations caring for the trees on campus, this retired widower decided to give $5,000 to each of his grandchildren, and everything else to Fresno State to establish an endowment to plant and maintain new trees throughout the university. Thus, he listed Fresno State as the residuary beneficiary in his will.

Language for Residuary Bequests:

"I hereby give and bequeath to California State University, Fresno Foundation, IRS # 94-6003272, all (or ____ percent) of the residue of my estate to be used for its general purposes (or state use restriction)."

Restricted vs. Unrestricted Bequests

Unrestricted bequests allow the gift to be used where the need is greatest at the discretion of the recipient entity. The recipient can be noted broadly as "Fresno State" or more narrowly as an individual college, department or program within the University. As such, Fresno State is free to use the gift to benefit the named entity at our discretion.

Restricted bequests are limited to a particular use by the recipient. This approach lets you be certain that your gift will be used for a specific purpose. These restrictions can be very detailed and precise. As such, we encourage you to discuss your plans in advance with Fresno State to be sure that the restrictions will be reasonably and legally enforceable. If you wish to establish "a scholarship for students over the age of 85 with red hair who live within two blocks of the university," the limitations may be so restrictive that such a student may never be found.

Example: An alum from Fresno State's first graduating class directed in her will that the endowment "pay for scholarships for students learning the business of buggy whip making." As this outdated course is no longer offered, the fund could sit unused for many years. Had the following language been in the original donor's will, the Trustees would be allowed to redirect the scholarships to a student in the Craig School of Business. It helps to consider that changes will occur in the future, and that your legacy will need to have a way to continue supporting Fresno State for future generations of students.

Language for Restricted Bequests:

"If, in the opinion of the Board of Governors of the California State University, Fresno Foundation, the specified purpose [of a use restriction] can no longer be served, the Board may direct any remaining assets exclusively for purposes that: (a) are within the scope of the mission of Fresno State; (b) most nearly approximate the original purpose and use of the gift; and (c) benefit Fresno State."

Contingent Beneficiaries are used to as a back-up in the event that your primary intention cannot be met. This situation usually occurs when one of the named beneficiaries is not alive at the time of your death. It is quite common for individuals to indicate that the bequest be given to a charity if the donor is not survived by the intended recipients (usually family members). Failure to name contingent beneficiaries could result in the courts deciding who will receive your assets should the intended beneficiaries die before you do.

Example: A retired professor directed in his will that 100% of his estate go to his second child. He intended to leave nothing to his first and third children for reasons unknown. His second child died unexpectedly in a car accident. Upon learning of this, he died of a heart attack. Because he did not include a contingent beneficiary, his estate was distributed to his only remaining relatives – his first and third children.

Contingency Language:

"If (name of beneficiary) does not survive me, I hereby give and bequeath his/her bequest or share to California State University, Fresno Foundation, IRS # 94-6003272, to be used for its general purposes (or state use restriction)."

How Do I Create An Endowment?

Endowments create a lasting legacy that will remain forever. An endowment is an agreement with Fresno State that creates a perpetual fund for a specific purpose. Instead of using a gift until it is depleted, an endowment fund is maintained indefinitely, and uses the annual investment return from dividends and/or interest to cover the costs for the annual scholarship or other specified purpose.

Generally named for the donor(s) or another honoree, an endowed fund perpetuates support for the designated purpose, whether it be a faculty position, scholarships, or program operations. The principal of the fund becomes part of the balanced portfolio invested under the policy direction of the California State University, Fresno Foundation Board of Governors. Each year a portion of the total returns, generally between four and five percent of the endowment market value, is distributed for the designated purpose. Endowment earnings above what is distributed (net of all fees) are reinvested in fund principal, so that the fund grows over time in order to counteract the effects of inflation.

A minimum gift of $25,000 is required to establish an endowment. If your estate anticipates the establishment of an endowment with your gift, you are encouraged to have a written agreement on file with Fresno State that will take effect if and when the estate is distributed. This step will ensure that your explicit wishes are fulfilled after you are gone.

How Do I Properly List Fresno State as a Beneficiary?

All gifts to Fresno State are directed to the "California State University, Fresno Foundation, IRS # 94-6003272." The Foundation is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization created with the mission to accept and manage all private donations intended for the benefit of Fresno State. It is best to note our IRS Federal Identification Number as a part of your bequest to Fresno State to prevent the misdirection of your gift. Copies of our IRS exemption letter are available upon request.

Seek Advice

Planning your estate can sometimes get complicated. Even simple estate plans can have severe tax and other legal consequences. As you review these pages, please remember that there are always exceptions to every rule. We encourage you to seek guidance from a qualified licensed professional such as an attorney or certified public accountant to be certain that your desires are fulfilled without any unwelcome surprises.

How Can Fresno State's Planned Giving Office Be of Assistance?

We are charitable planning specialists and have resources available to support both your investigation and your implementation of gift planning techniques. Our services are professional, confidential and collaborative. They are provided without cost or obligation. We encourage you to call on us to assist you, your family and your advisors in exploring financial, estate and charitable planning.

For more information, please contact:
Liz Garvin, CGPA
Director of Planned Giving
5244 North Jackson Ave. KC45
Fresno, CA 93740-8023

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