Asked by writer Al Ramrus if she was afraid of dying, Ayn Rand replied, “No, death is insignificant and unimportant. Eternity is important. And eternity is now.”
Q What is a bequest?
A A bequest is a gift of property made from a deceased person's estate. To make a charitable bequest to ARI, you name the Institute to receive all or a portion of your estate through your will. You may designate that ARI receive a percentage of your estate, a specific dollar amount or piece of property and/or the residual estate (i.e., what remains when other bequests have been honored). You may include ARI as a contingent beneficiary, to receive a bequest under certain conditions (e.g., if other beneficiaries predecease you). See Sample Bequest Language to aid you and your attorney in drawing up a bequest to the Institute.
Alternatively or in addition, you may name ARI as a primary or contingent beneficiary of your insurance policy, retirement plan, bank or brokerage account and other financial assets.
A charitable bequest to ARI offers you the opportunity to make a substantial gift without depleting assets you may need during your life. A bequest may also reduce or eliminate estate tax, if your estate is subject to this tax. And bequest designations are revocable during your lifetime—you may change your mind about your legacy, should your circumstances dictate.
Q What information does my attorney need in order to include a bequest to ARI in my will?
A Your attorney will need to know that ARI's legal name is "The Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism," and that ARI is recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) "public charity" with tax identification number 22-2570926. In addition, you may wish to include ARI's address: 2121 Alton Parkway, Suite 250, Irvine, California 92606-4926.
Q Does ARI require a copy of my will or beneficiary forms if I have included ARI as a beneficiary?
A No. However, we appreciate receiving such documentation and having it on file, so that we are prepared to be as proactive as may be necessary in seeing that your wishes are carried out. We keep the information confidential, of course, and your sending documentation does not imply an obligation, since your arrangements are of a revocable nature and may be changed at any time. We do understand that estate planning is a personal and private matter, and that some donors may inform us about what they have arranged but prefer not to send any documentation.
Q Will a bequest to ARI reduce my taxes?
A Not during your lifetime. However, if your estate is subject to estate tax after your death, your bequest to ARI will reduce that tax. (This reduction generally applies only to U.S. donors.) In this regard, some assets make better charitable gifts than others; consider bequeathing to ARI those assets on which your heirs would have to pay the most tax, either estate or income tax. More . . .
Q Are there any deferred gifts that do offer tax advantages during life?
A Yes. There are various deferred gift arrangements that offer tax savings as well as supplementary income and other benefits to donors during their lifetimes. See Planned Giving Beyond Bequests for more information about these vehicles and techniques.
Q I have a will, but ARI is not included. Must I write a new will to designate a bequest to ARI?
A Not necessarily. Minor changes to your will are easily accomplished with a short legal document called a codicil, which amends your existing will. If you are making major changes to your will, it may be preferable to draft a new will than to use a codicil.
Q What if I arrange a bequest to ARI and then need to change my plans?
A We understand that bequests are revocable and that life circumstances and other factors can lead to changes in estate planning arrangements. However, we respectfully request that if you change the manner or fact of your bequest to the Institute, you will let us know that there has been a change.
Q I would like to leave a bequest to ARI, but I have other obligations that may require all of my estate's resources. Do I have any options?
A Yes. You could consider designating ARI as the contingent beneficiary of your estate, i.e., the last-named beneficiary in case your other beneficiaries predecease you or are otherwise unable to accept your bequests. In this way, you can provide for the most unlikely—but still possible—eventualities that should be considered as part of your estate plan. While ARI recognizes the remoteness of such contingencies, we do appreciate donors' inclusion of the Institute in their plans at whatever level is possible and appropriate.
Q How will my bequest be used after I am gone?
A Unless you specify otherwise, your bequest will be designated for current programs at that time or reserved for future use, at the discretion of ARI's board of directors. Because the Institute is still a relatively young organization, and our goals are enormous, the board's policy has been to retain maximum flexibility in how bequests may be used when received. A sizeable bequest can make a significant difference in what we are able to accomplish sooner rather than later in advancing Objectivism. Eventually, we plan to designate a portion of every unrestricted bequest to ARI's endowment, with the long-term goal of generating sufficient operating income to cover all administrative expenses—thus having all contributions directly fund our cultural and academic programs.
Q Does ARI have an endowment?
A The Institute has established two endowment funds. The Permanent Endowment Fund is designed to provide financial security for the indefinite future; principal is reserved, and only income is distributed. The High Impact Endowment Fund allows for relatively near-term funding for ARI's work; in addition to income, the principal of each gift to this fund is distributed in equal installments over a ten-year period.
Both funds are still small. Any contribution, current or deferred, may be earmarked for either fund, and the Institute welcomes the opportunity to substantially fund either or both endowments at any time. Meanwhile, unless otherwise designated by donors, all gifts go to our general operating funds for the maintenance and expansion of ARI programs and infrastructure.
Q Regardless of whether I designate my bequest to endowment, may I restrict its use to a particular ARI program?
A Yes. With restricted bequests, however, a difficulty arises in projecting whether an existing program will still be a viable part of ARI's strategic plan at the time the bequest is received, which could be decades away. Thus, we request that in drafting your bequest, your attorney include language allowing ARI's board the discretion to redirect your gift or broaden its application if your restricted use is no longer possible. In addition, we have worked with several donors to create special gift agreements which address their particular interest yet preserve ARI's ability to maximize the value of their gifts to advance our mission. We welcome your inquiry in this regard.
Q What if ARI no longer exists when my estate is settled?
A In your will and other estate planning documents, you may specify an alternate charitable beneficiary in the unlikely event that ARI is not in existence at the time of your death. Some donors have provided that, in this circumstance, ARI's share of their estate be divided among their other beneficiaries. Others have given discretion in this regard to their executors, trustees or family members.
Q Years ago I was a successful bidder at one of ARI's fundraising auctions of Ayn Rand's manuscripts and memorabilia. If I have no other plans for my auction items, would ARI accept them as part of my legacy?
A Yes. The Ayn Rand Archives, a special collection of the Ayn Rand Institute, respectfully encourages auction winners to consider bequeathing such items, and welcomes the opportunity to expand its permanent collection of original material.
Q My will was written many years ago and includes a bequest to the Foundation for the New Intellectual, a non-profit organization established by Ayn Rand. Does this entity still exist? If not, will my bequest automatically go to ARI instead?
A The Foundation for the New Intellectual was dissolved some years ago, its functions and mission having been superseded by the Ayn Rand Institute. However, a bequest designated to FNI will not automatically go to ARI. Rather, it will be distributed according to the terms of your will, or left to the discretion of your executor or the probate judge. To ensure that ARI receives such a bequest, you should either add a codicil to your will changing the beneficiary from FNI to ARI, or write a new will which includes a designation to ARI.
Q How does ARI address donors' concerns about privacy and confidentiality with regard to bequests and estate planning?
A We understand that estate planning is a personal matter, and that some donors prefer to keep their arrangements completely private. We respect this choice. However, if we do not know that you have arranged a bequest to ARI, we cannot acknowledge your generosity during your lifetime nor offer you participation in the Atlantis Legacy.
The Institute maintains confidentiality with regard to all types of donor and contribution information. This means that we do not make public your name or anything else about you without your permission, and that access to information about your contributions is limited to a small number of authorized staff and advisors. When you inform ARI of your bequest and estate arrangements, regardless of how much or how little detail you choose to share, your disclosures are kept confidential and shared internally only on a strict need-to-know basis.
Q One day the Institute will achieve its goals and Ayn Rand's philosophy will dominate the culture. Will ARI disband at that point, its mission having been accomplished?
A No. Rather, our mission will become more historic and scholarly in nature, such as has already been undertaken by the Ayn Rand Archives, a special collection of the Ayn Rand Institute. With reason guiding human life in a free society, interest in Ayn Rand and her philosophy will be stronger than ever. ARI will continue to serve as the active, central repository for resources related to Ayn Rand and Objectivism.
More About Bequests
Sample Bequest Language
Atlantis Legacy Pages
ARI is committed to providing donors with accurate and authoritative information about planned giving. However, we cannot render legal or tax advisory services, and the information in these Web pages is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice. We urge donors to consult their own advisors regarding the tax and legal consequences of potential gifts. We are pleased to work with donors’ advisors as well as our own to ensure the best result for all concerned.
The Ayn Rand® Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. ARI’s federal identification number is 22-2570926.
Atlantis Legacy® is a registered trademark owned by the Ayn Rand Institute. All rights reserved.