Skip to Content
Skip navigation
Michigan State University masthead graphic
Make a Difference Giving To Michigan State University

3 Big Reasons Why You Need a Will

More than two-thirds of American adults don’t have a will.* You wouldn’t think about driving to work without wearing your seat belt. So why would you risk leaving those you love unprotected by skipping this important document?

If you pass away without a will, consider how these important people in your life will be impacted:

  1. Your spouse might have to share your estate with other relatives. The laws of the state where you live determine how much of your estate goes to your spouse. Some states give your spouse one-third of your estate, with your children sharing the rest. In certain states, your parents, siblings and other relatives could get a cut-whether you want them to or not.
  2. Your children could get equal shares. At first glance, this might not seem like a problem. However, perhaps one child has played a greater role in your caregiving or you gave one child assistance during a financially difficult time. Do you intend to even things out by leaving your children different shares of your estate? Without a will, the state won’t take this into consideration.
  3. Your favorite charities will receive nothing. You likely have charitable causes, such as Michigan State University, that are important to you. When you create a will, you can include a gift that supports our future. If you pass away without a will, no state has laws that allow your estate to make charitable gifts.

Already have a will? Excellent! But you’re not off the hook. Your will reflects the time when it was created, and depending on when that was, your life might look quite different. Here are a few situations that should trigger an update to your will:

  • There’s been a marriage, divorce, birth, adoption or death in your family.
  • You’ve moved to another state.
  • Your estate has increased in size.

Don’t Leave Your Loved Ones Unprotected

Creating a will that protects the important people in your life is an act of love. So stop putting off this important task. We’re here to help you start the process-just contact MSU Office of Gift Planning at 800 232-4678 | 517 884-1000 or today.  

*2016 NMI Healthy Aging Database® Study

eBrochure Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the brochure.

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Michigan 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 give and devise to Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, the sum of $__________ dollars (or state percentage of estate) to be held, administered, and used by the Board of Trustees for support of Michigan State University in the area of greatest opportunity (or designated to your college or degree, academic, athletic or cultural program of your choice).

I instruct that all of my charitable gifts shall be made, to the extent possible, from property that constitutes "income in respect of a decedent" as that term is defined in the Internal Revenue Code.

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 MSU 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 MSU 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 MSU 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 MSU where you agree to make a gift to MSU 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.

Personal Estate Planning Kit Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the materials for planning your estate.