Common questions about estate gifts

Denise Chan Gans, senior director in the Office of Gift Planning, provides answers.

Do I need to draw up a new will or trust in order to add a bequest to the University?

No. A document called a codicil or trust amendment can be used to add a bequest to an existing will.

What specific language is needed to make a bequest to the University?

If you are making a general bequest, you can use the following:

I give [describe dollar amount, property to be given, or proportion of residuary estate] to the University of Chicago, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation, to be used for its general educational and charitable purposes.

Do you accept bequests of artwork or real property?

Yes, often we do. We may not be able to accept all gifts of in-kind property, so please contact us directly to discuss your specific case.

Do I have to tell the University about my bequest?

This is at your discretion. We encourage you to notify us of your intentions so that we may express our gratitude during your lifetime and include you as a member of the Phoenix Society.

Can I specify how my gift will be used?

Absolutely. You are welcome to identify the areas or purpose that you would like to support directly. Please contact us to ensure that the University can carry out your wishes. In the case of endowment funds, we have specific language for you to use.

What tax benefits are available through bequests?

The University is a tax-exempt organization. Therefore, all bequests we receive qualify for federal estate-tax charitable deductions, which can help reduce taxes that might be due upon your death.

What other options are considered planned gifts?

You can name the University as beneficiary of an insurance policy or retirement plan. You can also fund a gift annuity or create a charitable trust during your life and receive income in return.

Bequests and other planned gifts can count toward reunion class totals.