Make a Gift in 3 Easy Steps

Beneficiary Designations Are Easy and Flexible

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Download our FREE guide Beneficiary Designations: The 3 Easiest Ways to Leave Your Legacy.View My Guide

Not everyone wants to commit to making a gift in their will or estate. Some prefer the increased flexibility that a beneficiary designation provides by using: 

  • IRAs and retirement plans
  • Life insurance policies
  • Commercial annuities

It only takes three, simple steps to make this type of gift. Here's how to name Pennsylvania State University as a beneficiary:

  1. Contact your retirement plan administrator, insurance company, bank or financial institution for a change-of-beneficiary form.
  2. Decide what percentage (1 to 100) you would like us to receive and name us, along with the percentage you chose, on the beneficiary form.
  3. Return the completed form to your plan administrator, insurance company, bank or financial institution.

Learn more by viewing our Bequest and Charitable Designations fact sheet.

See How It Works

An Example From Penn State

Sarah KalserAs a biochemist who spent 25 years of her 40-year career working in research administration, Sarah Kalser ('51 AGR) knows the value of funding to a scientist. When she made her estate plans in the late 1980s, she decided that $100,000 from her retirement funds would ultimately support researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences through the Sarah Chinn Kalser Faculty Research Assistance Endowment.

"I had worked at the National Institutes of Health for a long time and saw people who were good researchers but whose grant funding did not come through. I wanted to help people who had an interruption in their research funding," Sarah says.

A few years later, Sarah decided she wanted to see the yield on her philanthropic commitment during her lifetime, so she began making annual gifts to jump-start her endowment.

"Even though $5,000 a year didn't seem like that much, it helped, and Penn State would send me letters letting me know who used the money and the research work it supported."

Then, last year, Congress passed the Pension Protection Act of 2006. This legislation allows eligible donors to make gifts directly from their individual retirement accounts (IRA), without any taxes on the distributions, until December 31, 2007.

Sarah learned about the legislation from the development officers in the College and received more details from representatives of Penn State's Office of Gift Planning.

"I checked with my financial adviser who agreed that this was a reasonable thing to do since I had committed to the gift as part of my estate. It was a good way to write it off the books, and the people who lost research support could use the money now. Why wait 20 years?" she says.

Read the full story on Sarah Kalser's gift.

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Next Steps

  1. Contact Michael J. Degenhart at 888-800-9170 (toll free) or giftplanning@psu.edu for additional information on beneficiary designations and how they can help support Penn State with our mission.
  2. Talk to your financial or legal advisor to learn which assets will or will not trigger taxable income when paid to a beneficiary.
  3. If you name Penn State in your plans, please use our legal name and federal tax ID.

Legal Name: The Pennsylvania State University
Address: c/o Office of Gift Planning, 212 The 103 Building, University Park, PA 16802
Federal Tax ID Number: 24-6000-376

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Pennsylvania State University 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, [name], of [city, state, ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to Pennsylvania State University [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 Penn State 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 gift 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 receive an immediate federal income tax charitable deduction. 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 Penn State as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and receive an immediate federal income tax charitable deduction. 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 Penn State 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 Penn State where you agree to make a gift to Penn State 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.

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