Alumni discover the value of making a bequest

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Fall-Winter 2011 issue (pdf)

It is one thing to leave an impression, but quite another to leave a legacy. While most people strive for personal success, there are those who also seek to make an enduring contribution to the world and improve opportunities for future generations.

This path exists for alumni who make a bequest to The Medical College of Wisconsin. Bequests are an important component in supporting the mission of the Medical College. They can help build the College’s endowment and provide for the growth of its programs.

Not only are bequests the most popular vehicle for making a planned charitable gift, they are also the easiest to establish. Alumni donors benefit from a great deal of flexibility because they retain the use of their property during their lifetime. Bequests made through one’s will may be designated for the Medical College’s unrestricted use or in the establishment or advancement of an endowed fund for restricted purposes, such as research or scholarships.

The cost of medical education and the appreciation he had for his training led William Listwan, MD ’68, GME ’74, to establish a bequest at the College.

“I have many fond memories of my training within the Department of Medicine,” said Dr. Listwan, an internist and past Alumni Association President. “When I attended the (then) Marquette School of Medicine, the tuition was $1,500 per year. That didn’t come close to covering the actual cost, and somebody had to cover the difference.”

Bequests can fall under several different categories.

  • Specific: Provides a specific dollar amount or item of property.
  • Residuary: Provides all or a percentage of the property of an estate after debts, taxes, expenses and other bequests have been paid.
  • Charitable trust: Provides that all or a portion of an estate will be left in trust to benefit the Medical College. Alternatively, income from the trust can be designated for family or friends with the remainder benefitting the College, as long as the trust meets all requirements for a charitable remainder trust.

An added benefit of a charitable bequest is that it may entitle the donor to an estate tax deduction.

Most people wish to create a legacy for subsequent generations in one form or another, said Thomas Russell, MD ’62, Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the Medical College, and a faculty member for four decades who three times served as interim chairman.

“For me, this became an acute consideration that I discussed this spring with my late spouse Harriet before her death from pancreatic cancer,” he said. “She fully concurred in my intent to leave a bequest to complete funding for a chair in Dermatology, which had been initiated by members of the Milwaukee dermatology community. It was a tangible addition to my 40 years in Dermatology at MCW. It also reflects my family’s history, since my father, myself and two of our children are graduates of this institution. A bequest is a very comfortable way in which a legacy can be made and enjoyed while still alive.”

As graduates of our medical and biomedical science programs, alumni represent the Medical College’s legacy in the greater community. Establishing a bequest, in turn, provides alumni with a simple but effective way to leave a legacy with the Medical College and ensure its ongoing vitality.

How to give

To learn more about making a bequest to The Medical College of Wisconsin, contact Rick Worcester in the Office of Development:
Phone: (414) 955-5824


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