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Planned Giving

Just Add K: Uncomplicating Your Estate Plan Recipe

Donor Swenby

Ralph and Bonnie '69 Swenby

Just Add K: Uncomplicating Your Estate Plan Recipe

For Bonnie Swenby '69 and her husband Ralph, it was easy! They became members of the Stetson Society in 2004 and created a legacy to benefit the future of Kalamazoo College. How hard was it? They simply made arrangements to include the College in their will and then shared their intentions with the College. "People often say they can't think about it or think it's too much work," says Bonnie, "but it can be as basic as adding a few lines about the College." The Swenbys sat down with their attorney and simply explained how they wanted their will structured as far as amounts and percentages, and the attorney took care of the rest. "We accomplished leaving a legacy at K without getting too complicated," says Bonnie.

Bonnie is confident that their legacy will go on supporting K when she's "not here to keep contributing [her] time." Bonnie and Ralph also are members of the 1833 Society, and Bonnie serves on the Kalamazoo College board of trustees. When returning to campus for reunions or other events, she says she can always find a connection with other alumni from throughout the years. "We all have that touchstone of Career Development or CIP that spans all class years and acts as a starting point for connecting." Maintaining a strong relationship with the College, Bonnie also has served on the Alumni Association Executive Board, supported K recruitment in Minnesota, and worked with Career Development on the externship program.

She sees Kalamazoo College's Educational experience as one that impacts students in a unique way. Comparing her education to that of her peers over the years, she sees herself as "more flexible and more seeking of diverse viewpoints, cultures, and experiences." Remembering a lecture on the aesthetic beauty of a smile during one of her courses in dental school, she recalls being the only student able to attribute artwork to artists like Rembrandt, Monet, and others. Even as a biology major, the different liberal arts courses that made up her degree "became a part of who I was," says Bonnie.

"The education at K," she adds, "leaves students with an ignition and a drive to learn that doesn't ever stop."


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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Kalamazoo College a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I, [name], of [city, state, ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to Kalamazoo College [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to K or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to K as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to K as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and K where you agree to make a gift to K and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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