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Planned Giving

Believing in a Freedom to Fail

Maria Patterson

When Maria Patterson '79 moved onto her freshman hall at Davidson, it wasn't the start of the best four years of her life. In fact, she spent the first two years telling all her friends and classmates how she planned to transfer. Thankfully, she found her stride and wound up with only fond memories of alma mater.

"What sets Davidson apart in liberal arts education is that there is a freedom to fail," she said. "Others who have gone to liberal arts colleges were often identified early on and tracked into a particular major or field, which isn't good. It's important to be able to make new choices."

For Patterson, Davidson's emphasis on independent research was the key to her future, but not in the way one might imagine.

"My research through the history department was a wonderful experience," she said. "And though I did enjoy it, it mostly convinced me that I didn't want to go to graduate school in history. It's sometimes just as useful to learn what you don't want to do as much as what you do want to do. And I felt comfortable changing direction because of Davidson's culture."

When it came to charitable giving decisions, Patterson says Davidson was always going to be at the top of the list along with a few other groups she cares about. She sees it as an obligation because she benefited from scholarship support. She has chosen to give to Davidson now and has also included a provision for Davidson in her will. Some of her philanthropy is directed to her class scholarship.

"I love the idea of having my class remembered by a scholarship," she said. "It just keeps giving. None of us do what we do in our lives is completely on our own, and it's important that we, as alumni, think about the people who made Davidson such a great place when we were students. If everyone thinks about what they got out of Davidson, it feels right to give back."

Patterson's career in law has led her to teaching at NYU-Stern, a place that makes her think more about her own undergraduate education than she had prior to joining the higher education field.

"I'm reminded through my daily work how special Davidson is in many, many ways," she said. "And it's exciting to watch where we're heading next."

In addition to financial gifts, Patterson has served as a member of Davidson's Board of Visitors and as an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees. She also has held several volunteer positions in support of 1979 class reunions.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Davidson College 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

Bequest Language

I, [name], of [city, state ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to Davidson College [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 Davidson 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 Davidson 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 Davidson 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 Davidson where you agree to make a gift to Davidson 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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