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Smart Giving: Not Just for the Wealthy

Esther MayfieldEsther Mayfield is a pragmatic philanthropist. For her, charitable remainder trusts and annuities make so much sense all around that she'll take you under her wing immediately as a potential convert. And if you ask her, what if I'm not a wealthy person? "Annuities make sense for everybody," she insists. "Really, I think people should begin setting them up when they're in their 50s." Maybe even earlier: She is currently writing a book for children about financial planning.

Planning is critical for success and as a research engineer; Esther has carefully planned her estate to benefit her charities and to preserve her lifetime income. Clearly a thorough person, she holds a BS degree in physics, a master's degree in electrical engineering from San Diego State University, a PhD in Engineering from California Western University, and is a registered professional engineer in the state of California.

Thoughtful, thorough planning is also why she has chosen UC San Diego as the beneficiary of several of her gifts, including gift annuities established with life insurance, stock, cash and real estate.

"I have other charities that I am fond of, but within UCSD you can contribute to everything from energy to cancer to research in medicine. Also, I like the fact that the university is flexible and stable." She points to the importance of setting up an annuity with an institution that has the long-term capability to fulfill a donor's vision. "You have to look at an organization in terms of where it will be 20 or so years from now, when your gift matures." Esther has chosen to give to the university's unrestricted fund, to be used at the then-Chancellor's discretion.

Esther Mayfield is worth listening to. Among her accomplishments, she has been a technology advisor to the U.S. Congress, contributed to the design and development of the Global Positioning Systems and has patented her work in microwave technology. In addition to UC San Diego, she actively supports the San Diego Zoo and has served on the Asian Arts Council at the San Diego Museum of Art since 1998.

Finally, Esther is a savvy philanthropist: "UCSD has good interest rates and provides excellent assistance!"

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to UC San Diego 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 UC San Diego [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

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 UC San Diego 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 gift 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 receive an immediate federal income tax charitable deduction. 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 UC San Diego as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and receive an immediate federal income tax charitable deduction. 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 UC San Diego 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 UC San Diego where you agree to make a gift to UC San Diego 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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