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Handle with care

How Hopkins works to ensure your wishes are met
Posted June 14, 2017
When the time comes, the Office of Gift Planning's Kimberly Murray Siegler, takes several steps to ensure your legacy gift is used as intended. When the time comes, the Office of Gift Planning's Kimberly Murray Siegler, takes several steps to ensure your legacy gift is used as intended.

You took the important steps of planning your estate, ensuring your loved ones are cared for and choosing a personal representative. Like many individuals, you may have also included a gift from your estate to a charitable organization, such as Johns Hopkins University and Medicine.

Here at Johns Hopkins, legacy gifts — gifts donated through a will, trust, or beneficiary designation — provide critical support for our people and programs. I am the point of contact for all legacy gifts to Johns Hopkins, and an important part of my role is to ensure Johns Hopkins honors your wishes for your legacy gift.

Below are questions I'm commonly asked about how legacy gifts are received and distributed.

How does a legacy gift get to the area it is intended to benefit?

After a personal representative (such as an attorney, advisor, or loved one) notifies Johns Hopkins of a donor's passing, I determine whether the Office of Gift Planning has documentation of the donor's legacy gift. If the donor previously shared his or her intention with us, the process is often straightforward. I review our gift documentation and the legal documents, and I often speak with the donor's personal representative to confirm the donor's wishes. I then work with the area of Hopkins benefitting from the gift to ensure the gift is deposited in the correct Johns Hopkins account.

In many cases, our office learns of a legacy gift for the first time from a donor’s personal representative. In general, I follow the same steps as above to process the gift. If the donor's intent is unclear, I take various additional steps to determine the appropriate area of Hopkins to receive the gift.

How long does the legacy gift distribution process take?

The process usually takes between four and eight months. However, various circumstances can cause estate administration to take more time. One example I see regularly is when the personal representative needs time to market and sell real estate.

What can I do to help ensure Johns Hopkins honors my wishes?

The best way to guarantee your legacy gift is directed as you intend is to share your plans with us during your lifetime. Johns Hopkins has many schools, divisions, and funding opportunities, so accurate language, including naming the correct legal entity, is important.

For example, while a doctor may treat patients in the Johns Hopkins Hospital, his or her research is typically supported by the Johns Hopkins University. Our gift planning advisors can review the language in your planning documents to confirm it accurately reflects your intentions. We protect the privacy of all information shared, and if your intentions change, you can update your plans with us at any time.

If your plans include a gift to Johns Hopkins, please let us know. We would like to thank you, make sure we understand your wishes, and welcome you into the Johns Hopkins Legacy Society. Call 410-516-7954 or 800-548-1268 (toll free), or email