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A Surprise Bequest Leaves Us Wishing We Had Known Mary


Mary Fiterman

"Mary was a career woman before that term was invented," according to Mary Fiterman's long-time friend, Kris Erickson. Mary started working as a secretary in the Hennepin County Attorney's office at age 18. She soon became irreplaceable, the person everyone turned to when they had questions. She spent her entire career at the County Attorney's office, eventually retiring as the chief administrator in the 1970s.

Mary found love later in life when she married Mark Fiterman. Together they traveled extensively, enjoyed the many museums and theaters in the Twin Cities, and built strong, lasting friendships. Having no children, Mary was a loyal friend to many people and treated them like family; it was said that she truly "tended her friendships."

Mary was also a loyal supporter of many nonprofit organizations, including the Animal Humane Society. She gave a donation to help animals in our community every year. "She never had any pets of her own, but she always loved animals and wanted to make sure they were cared for," says Kris.

After Mary passed away earlier this year, the Animal Humane Society was surprised and grateful to have been included as one of her main beneficiaries, with a substantial bequest to establish an endowment. She kept her intentions quiet while she was alive, not wanting any publicity or fuss. Kris remembers that Mary "trusted the organization to be good stewards of her donation, knowing that it would go toward meeting the most pressing needs of the animals."

We are very thankful for Mary's generous gift to the Animal Humane Society and for her faith in us. We only wish we could have thanked her in person to show her the many ways she will help animals for generations to come.

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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.

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