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Faces of Philanthropy: Leaving a Legacy Through a Bequest


Penny Ralston would like others to recognize the impact a bequest can have on Ball State and how it can be a reflection of one's values, principles, and commitment.

"Most people have more resources than they realize and, through the power of estate planning, can reach their philanthropic goals, giving a larger gift than might be possible in their lifetime," she says.

Penny grew up on a farm in the small town of Modoc, Ind., only 25 miles from Ball State. Although her parents did not attend college, they did instill the value of a good education for Penny and her older sister-both attended Ball State.

Salutatorian of her high school class, Penny held the same achieving attitude at Ball State by becoming president of her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, a member of Cardinal Corps, and recipient of the Emens Outstanding Senior Award.

"My experiences at Ball State really helped me develop my leadership skills, which prepared me for the future," she says.

Penny earned her bachelor's degree in home economics education and social sciences in 1971. She continued on to the University of Illinois to earn her Master of Education (1975) and Ph.D. (1978) in home economics education. She worked at the University of Massachusetts and Iowa State University before becoming dean of the College of Human Sciences at Florida State University in 1992. She is now dean emeritus. She also serves on the Ball State University Foundation board of directors.

To pay tribute to her parents for their ongoing support and to show her commitment to Ball State, Penny made a provision in her will to create the Elizabeth and Frank Ralston Scholarship Fund. The fund will provide scholarships for African American students majoring in family consumer sciences at Ball State.

"My parents provided a constant source of encouragement and inspiration, and this is a very fitting and permanent way to honor them," says Penny, who enjoyed the ease and impact this type of gift provided.

"Giving through a bequest really costs nothing now, yet it gives you a great deal of satisfaction to know that your gift will affect the future of Ball State and its students," she adds.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Ball State University Foundation 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 Ball State University Foundation, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 2800 W. Bethel Avenue, Muncie, IN 47304, 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 the foundation 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.

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 the foundation 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 the foundation 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 the foundation where you agree to make a gift to the foundation 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

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