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Former Blugold Swimmer Pays it Forward

One of the easiest ways to leave a legacy with your alma mater is through a bequest in your estate documents. It is a fairly straightforward process. When working with your estate-planning advisor, you simply decide whether the bequest is a designated amount or percentage of your estate, and how you want the funds to be used by the university. 

Mary Jo Ferris, a 1983 UW-Eau Claire graduate, was motivated to do something tangible to show her deep gratitude for her education. She decided to designate the UW-Eau Claire Foundation as a beneficiary in her estate. 

Despite living in California, Mary Jo, an outstanding Blugold swimmer had remained somewhat connected to her alma mater. She has been making generous gifts to support the swimming team and the university's management and marketing programs. She met regularly with Foundation staff and had received information about giving and estate planning for a number of years.

In 2011, Mary Jo notified the Foundation of her estate plan that included a $100,000 bequest to support the greatest needs of UW-Eau Claire at the time it is received. Her reasons for making an estate plan were guided by the goals she and her husband have for philanthropy.
"Living far from the university, it is a challenge to feel connected," said Mary Jo. "However, no matter how far away you move from Eau Claire, that Blugold link is very strong and very deep. I loved being a member of the swim team where I established lifelong friendships. My modest estate gift, which means a great deal to my husband and me, is a way I can say, 'Thank you.' It also means that I can pay it forward to help future students obtain the same wonderful education I received."
When making any giving plans that involve UW-Eau Claire, always make sure you are designating it for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation to ensure your gift is received, managed and used locally for the university's direct benefit. If you already have included the Foundation in your estate plans, or are considering doing so, please contact John DeLestry at 715-836-3819 or

You may also want to check out additional information on estate planning

eBrochure Request Form

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire 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

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 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire 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.

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 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 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire 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 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire 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 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation where you agree to make a gift to University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire 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

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