FAQ: Am I too young to think about a planned gift?

You've got questions. We've got answers.

The short answer – no!  Wow, you’re probably thinking this is going to be short blog entry, right?

I’ll step back a second and introduce myself. My name is Anne Morrison Bradley, and I am the Associate Director of Gift Planning at Duke University. As a millennial who works in the Gift Planning field, I’ve thought about this question a lot. And, although I often find myself working with older donors, gift planning is something everyone can and should be thinking about.

For instance, did you know that the youngest member of Duke’s Heritage Society, which honors planned gift donors, is 18. (The oldest is 108 in case you were wondering!). Although I don’t think many high school students are thinking about their legacy, it is something you should start thinking about when you get your first job.

Let’s say you graduate (from Duke of course) and land a great job with retirement benefits like a 401(k) plan. You aren’t married, and you don’t have children yet. Who is the beneficiary of that plan? Is it your parents?  A sibling? Did you realize that they would have to pay income tax on that money, but giving it to Duke would be tax free? Your employer may also provide other assets that you can direct toward charity, such as a life insurance policy and an employer matching program.

Naming Duke as the primary or partial beneficiary of your 401(k) can have a huge impact. Allocating 5 percent of your retirement account to Duke or another nonprofit now might seem insignificant, but that gift will continue to grow. Duke can also be the beneficiary of a life insurance policy or the recipient of stocks, a checking account, real estate, etc.  These gifts can have substantial tax benefits.

Many of these techniques are easy to set up and don’t require drafting a will. But most importantly, thinking about gift planning at a young age compels you to confront your own philanthropic priorities. Ask yourself: What’s important to me? What types of organizations and causes do I want to support? What kind of legacy do I want to leave? 

Once you know those answers, there is nothing stopping you from taking action today!

To learn more about naming Duke the beneficiary of your retirement account, click here, or contact me directly.

TAGS: Charitable Giving Strategies bequests Estate and Retirement Planning

About the author

Anne Bradley


Anne helps donors and their professional advisors understand and consider charitable gifts that require some measure of tax, legal or financial planning. Anne’s work includes charitable gift and tax issues related to estates, trusts, life income gifts such as charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts, real estate and other complex gift arrangements. Prior to joining Duke, Anne managed corporate, foundation, and government fundraising for the Detroit Zoological Society. When she’s not at work, Anne roams like Roosevelt visiting our nation’s National Parks.