Mary and Richard Johnson: Expanding their Circle of Support

Mary and Richard Johnson

Mary and Richard Johnson

When your lives revolve around the Milwaukee County Zoo, making a legacy gift to the Zoological Society of Milwaukee (ZSM) seems the natural thing to do. Mary and Richard Johnson established a planned gift for the ZSM about 10 years ago, but kept it private. Two years ago they attended a Zoo Pride meeting where someone called attention to the important roles of planned giving and the Simba Circle. "We came away thinking, ‘Why not let other people know about our passion and vision in hopes of inspiring others," recalls Richard. Mary and Richard agree the Zoo is a treasure for the community-another reason they think people should consider making a planned gift to the ZSM. Their dream is for the Zoo to transform so much that it becomes an entirely new experience for future generations. They feel an added benefit of joining the Simba Circle is that it's so simple to do. "We weren't asked to give a specific amount," says Mary. "We just said we want to make a bequest; didn't even need to use an accountant."

Mary affectionately recalls bringing their six children to the Zoo "almost every day when they didn't have school." Bruce, the Johnsons' son, knew the Zoo so well that he held the coveted position of Zoomobile driver during his high school and college days. When Richard retired 18 years ago, he and Mary became Zoo Pride volunteers-and they remain so to this day. Together they have logged over 7,000 volunteer hours at the Zoo. Much of that time has been spent in the Karen Peck Katz Conservation Education Center where Mary is well-known for using her visual-art talents to assist children in art classes. To prove just how connected the Johnsons are to the Zoo, they even had a Zoo-catered party in the Flamingo Café to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the Zoological Society of Milwaukee 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 Zoological Society of Milwaukee [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 Zoological 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 Zoological 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 Zoological 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 Zoological Society where you agree to make a gift to the Zoological 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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