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Planned Giving

Alumnus Tom Curtis: Giving Back, Looking Forward

Tom Curtis

IRA Bequest Will Help GW Students with Financial Need

In the fall of 1964, the George Washington University looked quite different from the school that sits at Foggy Bottom today. Thurston Hall (then Superdorm) was a brand new residence, GW boasted a football team in the Southern Conference, and tuition was $14 per credit hour. This is the GW that Tom Curtis remembers.

"The university was a massively different institution back then," Tom recalls. "Our student union was a small row house on G Street, and there were only three or four residence halls. It was a commuter school."

GW has certainly grown since 1964. It now stretches seven city blocks and hosts approximately 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students from every state and more than 130 countries. But despite the contrasting campuses and the decades that separate them, the heart of the university remains unchanged: students and faculty who want to make a difference in the world.

This is why Tom decided to create a charitable bequest to the GW Power & Promise Fund, so that student aid will be available to deserving students. "When I first started at GW, I was on scholarship and I couldn't have attended without it," he says. "Now that I have the means, I want to see GW achieve world-class status and make it possible for students like me to go here."

Tom's generosity has been influenced by GW in more ways than one. Not only is he inspired by the potential of the university and its students, he also earned a GW degree in economics and accounting that has fostered smart charitable decisions. A financial planner by profession, Tom took advantage of the tax benefits that accompany an IRA bequest while achieving his philanthropic goals.

"Under ordinary circumstances, when you take money out of an IRA, it becomes taxable," Tom explains. "Upon death, the money is first taxed for estate tax purposes and then the beneficiary is taxed for income tax purposes. That means that as much as 80 cents of every dollar gets eaten up in taxes."

Through his bequest, however, Tom was able to control his charitable and personal objectives in tandem. By making a tax-exempt organization like GW the beneficiary of his IRA, Tom's estate will receive a significant tax deduction and the university will receive 100 percent of the value of the IRA that remains after Tom's lifetime. But his smart estate planning didn't stop there. With the expiration of the estate tax laws this year and the reset starting next year, Tom encouraged his son to take out a life insurance policy on Tom's life equal to the amount of the IRA. "So when the time comes, my son gets the life insurance proceeds tax-free," he says. "It's a triple win."

While the financial benefits are clear, Tom maintains that he just hopes to make a difference. "It's incredible to think that you can transform someone's life by providing them with opportunities to excel," he says. And while GW has certainly changed in the last 50 years, it continues to educate and empower students who want to make a difference in the world—much like the students of 1964.

Learn more about your Planned Giving options or contact Courtney Tsai, JD, CAP ® at"> for assistance with your philanthropic planning.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the George Washington 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 give to the George Washington University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 1922 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20052, 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 GW 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 GW 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 GW 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 GW where you agree to make a gift to GW 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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