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Caring...For Each Other


Edna Ellingson

You think you love cats? Edna Ellingson, a member of the Animal Humane Society's Legacy Circle, relates her life story using the cats she and her family have enjoyed through the years. This is a little surprising, because Edna always thought she'd have dogs as pets. There were barn cats on the farm where she grew up, just north of Minneapolis, but Edna's animal companion then was a dog named Skippy. After she married, she assumed a dog would soon join their family. That was, until the day her young son announced he didn't want a dog—he wanted a cat!

Since then, numerous cats have been part of the Ellingson household. And, along with the cats came numerous visits to the veterinarian to keep them healthy and happy. There's actually a "quid pro quo" to this— more studies are now showing that our companion animals help keep us healthy and happy too. The physical and mental health benefits of having a pet can include reducing allergies in children and helping older adults remain active and involved in their communities, often reducing visits to their physicians. Preliminary research has even shown that dogs may be able to detect some types of cancer. This goes beyond improving lives to actually saving lives.

The health benefits associated with having pets aren't a big surprise to Edna. She knows the joy that her cats bring to her life—they help keep her young! By including the Animal Humane Society in her estate plan, Edna wants to help others experience these benefits. Her reasons for establishing an estate plan are straightforward: She wants to make things easy for her family, and she wants to make sure her wishes are clear. Edna believes the Animal Humane Society does an excellent job of caring for animals, and in return, she will be "caring" for the Society through her bequest.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Animal Humane Society 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, [name], of [city, state, ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to the Animal Humane Society [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 Society 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 the Society 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 the Society 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 Society where you agree to make a gift to the Society 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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