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Gifts From Your Will or Trust: The Details

You'd like to help build the long-term strength of Yale, but feel you cannot make a significant gift today. Your solution may be a charitable bequest. A bequest in your will or revocable trust can allow you to meet your commitments today while supporting Yale tomorrow.

Donors choose a bequest because:

Your giving options are increased

  1. A bequest can be for a specific gift to Yale ("I bequeath the sum of ____ dollars"). Alternately, it can be for a percentage of the balance remaining in your estate after taxes, expenses and specific bequests have been paid — what's known as the residue ("I bequeath _____ of the residue of my estate").
  2. You can designate that a particular program or activity at Yale benefit from your bequest. Or, you can make your gift unrestricted and allow Yale to use it for the needs and opportunities most relevant when your gift is received.

Is a bequest deductible?

A bequest from a will or a trust to Yale is fully deductible for federal estate tax purposes, and there is no limit on the deduction your estate can claim. In addition, the gift is usually exempt from state inheritance taxes.

Planning points

  1. The more narrowly you restrict the use of your bequest, the greater the risk that the program you want to benefit today won't be as vital or as relevant when we receive your gift in the future. Please talk with us as you are drafting your will if you want to restrict the use of your bequest.
  2. Similarly, please let us know in advance if you intend to bequeath real estate, a business interest, or other specialized property to Yale.
  3. The remaining balance in your retirement plan makes a tax-wise gift to Yale, but don't direct it to us through your will or trust – that will include the plan in your taxable estate. Use your plan's beneficiary designation form.

What if I've already written my will or trust?

You can amend a will or trust to make a gift without rewriting the entire document. Your attorney can prepare a simple document, called a codicil, which adds a new bequest to us while reaffirming the other terms of your will. Similarly, an attorney can prepare an amendment to a revocable trust to add Yale as a beneficiary.