Do more than you thought possible by including Duke in your long-term plans while achieving your own personal and financial goals. Estate gifts are simple to establish and allow you financial flexibility to adjust your plans depending on your needs. Your support will leave a lasting impact at Duke for generations to come.

Duke offers 5 types of bequests and testamentary gifts to plan for your future.

  1. Gifts by will or by revocable “living” trust are the most common form of deferred gifts to support Duke. A bequest is naming a person or recipient of a gift and is contained in a person’s will or revocable (living) trust. The following language is an example of how a bequest to benefit Duke may be worded, for review by you and your attorney.

I give, devise, and bequeath to Duke University, a qualified 501(c)(3) charitable organization located in Durham, North Carolina, the sum of $_____ [or _____%] of my estate, to be used in accordance with the terms of the most recent fund agreement or other written directive I have signed and delivered to Duke during my lifetime that provides instructions for the use of this gift and, if none exists, for unrestricted use by [a specific department, unit or program chosen by the donor] at Duke University.

  1. Gifts of retirement plans name Duke as a primary or contingent beneficiary of a retirement account (e.g. IRA, SEP, 401(k), 403(b), ESOP, etc.). This gift may enable you to make a larger gift than you anticipated because income and estate taxes are not imposed when plan assets are distributed to Duke.


This sample assumes the donor is subject to federal estate tax; heirs subject to combined federal and state income tax
marginal rate of 40 percent. State inheritance taxes are not considered here.
  1. Testamentary life-income gifts include charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts or pooled income funds and can be funded through your will. While these gift plans will not generate tax savings during your lifetime, they may reduce estate taxes and provide life income for a loved one.
  1. Gifts of life insurance may name Duke as a primary or contingent beneficiary of your policy. If you retain any control over the policy, no income tax deduction is allowed. However, if Duke is named both the sole owner and beneficiary of a paid-up policy, you may receive an immediate charitable deduction for the lesser of the policy’s fair market value or the net premiums paid. Additional premiums you pay may also be tax deductible.
  1. Retained life estate in property may generate a current income tax deduction by giving a home or farm to Duke, while retaining the right to use the property during your lifetime. The property will also be removed from your taxable estate.

Gift Documentation

Your retirement account’s plan administrator can help you designate Duke University as a primary or contingent beneficiary on the plan’s beneficiary designation form. Please be sure to send us a copy of any paperwork designating Duke as the beneficiary.

Let the Duke University Office of Gift Planning know if you have included Duke in your estate plans so we may fulfill your gift in accordance to your wishes once it ultimately comes to the university. Complete a confidential Confirmation of Legacy Gift Form and please to contact our staff with any questions you may have.

Unwrapping Gifts: Bequests and Retirement Account Designations

There are many reasons why you should consider making a planned gift to support Duke University. Phil Buchanan, former senior philanthropic counselor of gift planning at Duke, describes how these types of gifts provide flexibility while supporting Duke University.

Unwrapping Gifts: Retirement Planning

Planning for retirement remains a critical part of every person’s life. Anne Morrison Bradley, associate director of gift planning at Duke University, describes how to align individual retirement goals with a legacy gift to Duke.