Sabrina Bryant: Will Power

Sabrina BryantAlthough all adults should prepare a will, people in their 30s and 40s who are young and healthy tend not to think about end-of-life issues. If you think of a will as something only for the elderly, any estate planner will tell you it's not true. So will Sabrina Bryant. She's only 41, but she's already done a third version of her will. Each time she has included the Zoological Society of Milwaukee (ZSM) as a beneficiary. Only recently, however, did Bryant realize that her thoughtful pre-planning made her eligible to be a member of the ZSM's Simba Circle, which recognizes donors who include the ZSM in their will or with another type of legacy gift.

As a long-time supporter of and volunteer for animal-welfare organizations, Bryant-a lover of all cats, big and small-wasn't aware of the Simba Circle. Over the years she's supported the Zoo and ZSM through fundraisers and animal sponsorships. Volunteering on behalf of people and animals is a huge part of Bryant's life. "I consider it my job, although I don't get paid for it," she says. Thanks to her volunteerism and philanthropy, Bryant recently won an award from Milwaukee's Community Shares, specifically for her animal-welfare work. A few weeks later she was contacted by Kim Peterson, senior development officer for the ZSM, who was also at the event. Peterson told her about the Simba Circle. "I didn't know there was an official group of people who put the Zoological Society into their wills," she says. "Kim asked me to complete the form to officially notify the Zoological Society of my plans, thus making me a member of the Simba Circle." As a result, Bryant now receives recognition on signage at the Zoo and in ZSM publications. Plus, she gets invitations to Simba Circle events and VIP premiere events.

Bryant says adults of all ages should consider writing wills now instead of later because a will can have a powerful impact on a non-profit. Why does Bryant recommend the ZSM? "The Zoological Society has a proven record of success helping animals at the Zoo, helping to maintain the Zoo, and doing excellent conservation work abroad."

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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