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Making OHS A Beneficiary in Your Will

OHS Staff Photo-Bob and Karen Lucas "Of course, we felt our first priority was to provide for our children, but we also wanted to do something for a few very special organizations we have been involved with over the years. OHS is an organization that matters a lot to each of us, and we want our children to see that. So we included the Society in our estate plans. It really feels great. This is a legacy we think our children and grandchildren can be proud of. We arenít wealthy. We want people to see us and say, 'I can do this, too.' "

Bob and Karen Lucas
Pemberville, Ohio

First You Must Have A Will
Those who already have a will are exceptional. Fewer than one out of every three adults have a will; and of those who do, many wills are now out of date. The first step in making a charitable bequest to The Ohio Historical Society is establishing a current will.

Why A Will Is Important
A will allows you to:

  • Name the person who will manage and settle your estate, according to your instructions.
  • Reduce and often eliminate estate taxes and other expenses of settling your estate, allowing you to pass most of your assets to those you wish to receive them.
  • Specify how your estate is to be distributed to family, friends, and organizations that are important to you.
  • Establish trusts for your spouse, children, or others. Trusts can assure that loved ones are provided for without saddling them with the burden of managing large sums of money. Trusts can also be helpful in minimizing taxes.
  • Make a bequest to The Ohio Historical Society and other charitable organizations.
  • Be recognized as a donor to The Ohio Historical Society even though you choose not to make a current outright gift.

A Do-It Yourself Job?
A will is not a do-it-yourself proposition since laws governing the proper execution of wills vary from state to state. Fill-in-the-blank forms may be acceptable in a limited number of cases, but most situations require a "custom fit". An attorney can make sure that your wishes are communicated clearly in a will and can make sure that your particular estate planning needs are addressed. Finally, an attorney will see that your will is properly executed and, therefore, valid.

You Do Not Need To Revise Your Will, Unless...
If you already have a will, it may be a good idea to review it and consider updating it. Consider the following questions as you review your will:

  • Have you moved to another state?
  • Are the beneficiaries still living?
  • Do you still want your estate distributed to the same beneficiaries in the same amounts?
  • Do you still own the specific property mentioned? Do you have new property?
  • Are you able to assist your favorite charitable organizations with a bequest?

A Charitable Bequest to the Society
Bequests to The Ohio Historical Society can take several forms. You can indicate the amount of money or the specific assets that should go to the Society. You can even specify that the Society would receive a bequest after your children, parents, or other primary beneficiaries are provided for, or in the event that they do not survive you. Samples of these various forms are provided below. You should ask your attorney to adapt these samples for use in your will or codicil:

Specific Bequest
"I give, devise and bequeath to The Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio, the sum of $______, or a specific asset, to be used for ..."

Percentage of Your Estate
"I give, devise and bequeath to The Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio, _____% of my estate to be used for ..."

Residuary Bequest
"I give, devise and bequeath all the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both real and personal property of whatever kind and wherever situated, which I may own or have the right to dispose of at the time of my death, to The Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio, to be used for..."

Contingent Bequest
"I give, devise and bequeath to (Named Beneficiary) the sum of $_____ (or __% of the estate), but if he/she shall not be living, then I give, devise and bequeath the same to The Ohio Historical Society to be used for ..."

A Testamentary Trust
All or part of your estate may be left in trust to provide income to your beneficiaries. Upon the death of the survivor, or after a pre-determined number of years, the principal goes to The Ohio Historical Society.

Designating the Use of Your Bequest
Just as in a gift of cash, your bequest can be unrestricted, meaning that you will leave it up to the Executive Director and the Trustees of The Ohio Historical Society to determine how best to use your gift when it is received. It is also possible to designate that your bequest should benefit a specific area, program, or project while leaving the exact use up to the appropriate Society executive staff member(s).

It is also possible to specify that the funds be used for a restricted purpose such as educational programs, specific OHS sites, the Archives/Library, museums, preservation, etc. These purposes may be OHS-wide or restricted to a specific project or location. It is usually advisable to consult with a member of our staff who can assist you in developing a designation that will be meaningful to both you and the Ohio Historical Society.

In the drafting of all bequests which have a restricted purpose, we respectfully request that you and your attorney consider a clause to permit The Ohio Historical Society flexibility in meeting your wishes. Such a clause might read as follows:

"If, at the time this bequest is received by The Ohio Historical Society, or anytime thereafter, the need for this fund should cease to exist or so diminish as to provide unused income, then another use shall be designated by the Board of Trustees as recommended by the appropriate Ohio Historical Society official in order to carry out the desire of the donor."

Bequests to Establish Endowed Funds
Many donors find it satisfying to know that their bequest can establish a permanent fund from which only the income will be used. A named endowed fund can be established with a gift of $15,000 or more. Named endowed funds provide a lasting memorial to the donor or those the donor wishes to honor.

To establish a named fund, the bequest should clearly indicate this desire. It is strongly recommended that you consult with a member of The Ohio Historical Society's Institutional Advancement staff to draft an endowment description to guide the use of your endowment once it is established. This confidential description will remain in our files until your bequest is received, or you can begin the endowment now with an outright gift and supplement the fund with your bequest.

Since the endowment minimum may change in the future, bequests that will create an endowed fund should include the following language as part of the bequest:

"It is my intent to create the ___________ (Endowed Fund). To do so, I bequeath the required funds, currently $____, to The Ohio Historical Society. It is further understood that the exact amount of funds required to endow the _______ Fund might adjust from time to time. The amount of my funds bequeathed to The Ohio Historical Society is to be the required amount that will fund the ______ Fund at the time the bequest funds are transferred, which may be more or less than the amount required on the date of this document."

Confidentiality and Recognition
There is, of course, no obligation to tell the Society about your bequest to its Foundation. However, we would be happy to work with you and your advisors to develop bequest language and endowment descriptions that will be mutually beneficial to you and The Ohio Historical Society.

The Society gives special recognition to all who have included The Ohio Historical Society Foundation in their wills.

To receive recognition for your bequest, please complete and return the attached form. All information will be held in the strictest confidence.

A Word About Taxes
Unlike a cash gift, a bequest will not provide you with an income tax deduction. However, your estate will receive an estate tax charitable deduction for the fair market value of your charitable bequests.
Your attorney, accountant, and other advisors can give your more detailed information about the tax consequences of your plans.

Contact a Planned Giving Officer

Thank you for your interest in the Ohio Historical Society!

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