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The Catholic University of America

It’s Good to Be Blessed; It’s Better to Be a Blessing

By Leo Gallegos, CFP ®
Associate Director of Planned Giving, The Catholic University of America

"Charity wins souls and draws them to virtue," wrote Saint Angela Merici.

Of the Church's three theological virtues—faith, hope, and charity—the greatest is charity. Charity animates and inspires the other virtues.

Years ago, I was a member of a small "faith and finances" discussion group led by the parish priest. In seeking to illustrate this very principle on charity's virtue, the priest shared details of his personal financial situation with the group. Despite a modest $30,000 annual salary, he had made a number of charitable contributions, including a 3-year pledge of more than $10,000 to a scholarship fund. After a period of inner struggle with and worry over the decision, he was filled with peace and satisfaction as a result of making the commitment to give. Stressing the personal growth and redemptive element of charity, the priest told us, "We don't need your money as much as you need to give."

Through giving generously, the donor reaps benefits along with the recipient. The tax and financial incentives of charity are well documented, but less often considered is that giving offers donors a pathway in opposition to the money-centric focus of our culture and an opportunity for personal growth. Charity is also an invitation to partner in a common purpose with a charitable organization to confront important needs and welcome change. As St. Francis of Assisi put it, "it is in giving that we receive."

Planning what happens to your assets and property after you are gone is a vital financial step, but in the context of the virtue of charity, estate planning can take on another level of meaning. Reflecting on one's own mortality and considering what happens to loved ones and the charitable causes one supports now is often a thought-provoking and transformative experience. There is never a guarantee that we will have time to finalize such planning later.

As a financial advisor, I have helped numerous clients design and craft their estate plans. Although people react to planning in their own way, rarely have I experienced a reaction to the process that didn't cause clients to pause, reflect, and reevaluate what's most important.

At The Catholic University of America, we are available to partner with you to help you identify, plan, and implement your unique philanthropic, financial, and estate planning goals. Planned gifts, such as bequests and charitable gift annuities, are an easy way to make an impact and are vital to our mission. We count on your generosity. We want to hear your stories, understand your goals, and help you identify a unique and meaningful way to give back.

Visit our site to learn more about how a planned gift may help you accomplish your financial and charitable goals. Please contact Isabel de la Puente at 202-319-6914 or to request a confidential gift planning discussion.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to The Catholic University of America 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 give to The Catholic University of America, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 620 Michigan Avenue, NE, Washington DC 20064, or its successor thereto, ______________ [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 Catholic University 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 Catholic University 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 Catholic University 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 Catholic University where you agree to make a gift to Catholic University 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.

Personal Estate Planning Kit Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the materials for planning your estate.

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