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KU Endowment 101 – Planning Your Legacy
KU Endowment Staff

How will I be remembered? What will I leave behind? How will I make a difference or impact the next generations? We all ask ourselves these questions as we contemplate our future legacy, and thoughtful charitable gift planning through your estate plan can help answer them. 

It is a good feeling when you have your affairs in order and include the organizations and institutions you care deeply about in your plan. At KU Endowment, we are grateful to have KU alumni and friends who have provided for the university in their estates. This special group of donors are recognized as Watkins Society members, named for one of KU’s most impactful benefactors, Elizabeth M. Watkins. Members’ gifts touch every facet of KU: scholarships for deserving students; professorships that enhance teaching and research; and opportunity funds that provide unrestricted support for the university’s greatest needs or resources for a specific school, department, initiative or program. These funds are often named in memory or honor of loved ones, a favorite professor or after the donors themselves. 

There are myriad ways to leave a gift through your estate. Will bequests, living revocable trusts and life insurance beneficiary designations are still heavily used, but with the estate tax exemption currently at $12.06 million per person, fewer people have taxable estates. As a result, planners are focusing on strategies designed to reduce income taxation. 

One such strategy becoming increasingly popular is to make charitable gifts from qualified retirement plans upon death. It is simple to do, and qualified retirement plans left to a charity are not subject to income tax; they are taxable when left to individuals. 

KU Endowment also issues charitable gift annuities (CGAs) and will serve as trustee of charitable remainder trusts. These gifts produce multiple benefits to the donor and the university. The donor can receive lifetime income and is eligible to take a charitable income tax deduction at the time the annuity or trust is funded. A gift of the remainder will be sent to KU Endowment upon the lifetime beneficiary’s death. We receive on average $25-$30 million annually in estate distributions. No matter the size or the purpose, these gifts weave together to form a tapestry of support that significantly enhances the KU experience for students, faculty and visitors. 


For more information on planning for your future, visit or contact Andy Morrison at 785-832-7327. 

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