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Retirement Plan Gifts

An easy, seamless way to give to Johns Hopkins
Posted June 8, 2016
Gifts of retirement assets are a convenient way to leave a legacy to Johns Hopkins or make an immediate impact on our mission. Gifts of retirement assets are a convenient way to leave a legacy to Johns Hopkins or make an immediate impact on our mission.

Ron and Virginia Berninger have long planned to make Johns Hopkins a part of their legacy. A gift from their estate will establish an endowed fund to support research in cures and treatments of diseases affecting children. The commitment recognizes their late friend and mentor Richard Talamo, MD, a dedicated pediatric physician and researcher, and their own Hopkins experience — Virginia received her doctorate in psychology here, and Ron was a post-doctorate fellow in pediatric immunology.

Still, the Berningers wanted to add to the research fund in their lifetime without impacting their needs in retirement. A milestone birthday year for Ron and good guidance from the couple’s financial advisor provided them with a simple process to make an outright gift directly from Ron’s retirement account, along with other benefits.

“Many donors find that gifts of retirement assets are a convenient way to give, whether they would like to leave a legacy to Johns Hopkins or make an immediate impact on our mission,” says Anne Doyle, director of gift planning and senior philanthropic advisor in the Johns Hopkins Office of Gift Planning.

In addition to the tax advantages of donating retirement assets, giving these funds requires little more than a call to the donor’s retirement plan administrator.

A Gift for Today: Charitable IRA Rollover

Two events coincided last year that led to the Berningers’ decision to make a current gift to their research fund. Legislation passed making the charitable IRA rollover permanent after several years of limited appearances as a giving vehicle, and Ron reached the required age to make such a gift.

The charitable IRA rollover is a way for individuals 70½ years or older to transfer up to $100,000 a year directly from their traditional IRA to a qualified charity like Johns Hopkins. Ron met with the couple’s financial advisor who outlined how giving funds directly from his IRA to Hopkins was more beneficial tax-wise than receiving the IRA distribution and donating it to Hopkins. The transferred amount would be excluded from his taxable income and count toward his required minimum distribution.

From there, Ron contacted his IRA administrator with the tax ID for Johns Hopkins and asked that the desired amount be transferred directly to Johns Hopkins; he then let the Office of Gift Planning know his gift was on the way and that it should be designated to the Berningers’ research fund. Now that Ron has experienced the charitable IRA rollover, he plans to make more rollover gifts in the future. “It’s easy and saves you money,” he says.

A Gift for the Future: Retirement Account Designation

Jill McGovern likes to say she has eight German children. That’s because the recipients of the McGovern-Muller fellowships for the School of Advanced International Studies have hailed from Germany, where her late husband, Steven Muller, former president of Johns Hopkins University, grew up.

“Steve had a natural affinity for SAIS. He was educated on both sides of the Atlantic and appreciated the perspective you get when you’re looking at things from different continents,” says Jill, whose generosity extends throughout Hopkins, including full scholarship support for an incoming student to the Peabody Conservatory.

The McGovern-Muller fellows spend a year at SAIS Bologna and another at the main campus in D.C., where Jill enjoys meeting them and their families. Even before she and Muller funded scholarships for today’s students, they made plans in their estate to support the next generation of SAIS scholars.

Their future gifts will be funded with retirement assets, a source that gives Jill peace of mind. She knows the value of these assets and likes that they will transfer seamlessly to the areas they will support. “The designated beneficiary of the IRA supersedes anything, so we can be certain our commitments will be honored.”

Most of all, Jill takes great pride knowing that her and her husband’s gifts will continue to attract the best minds to SAIS who will go on to make a difference in the world. “We’ve made a very wise investment,” she says.