Retirement Assets

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Many Americans have taken advantage of tax incentives provided by Congress to encourage saving for retirement through contributions to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), 401(k)s, 403(b) and similar plans.

Funds held in these tax-favored, qualified retirement plans are typically not subject to income tax until they are actually withdrawn from the plan by the plan owner or surviving heirs.

Given that qualified retirement plan assets are subject to tax on withdrawal, you may wish to direct these assets to fund gifts to Bryn Mawr during your lifetime, or later, through your estate.  

If you are over the age of 70½, gifts made directly from an IRA to Bryn Mawr through the charitable rollover provision will not be subject to income tax that would otherwise be payable on withdrawal. You may find that your retirement plan can be a convenient "pocket" from which to make charitable gifts each year.

Estate taxes and income taxes may similarly diminish an inheritance from a qualified retirement plan. Many alumnae/i choose to make a lasting and tax-wise gift to the College by naming the College a beneficiary of their retirement plan and provide for their loved ones with assets that are not subject to income tax.

  More on Retirement Assets.

Option 1: IRA Charitable Rollover opportunity

Permanent IRA Charitable Rollover Signed Into Law

On December 18, 2015 the IRA Charitable Rollover legislation was signed into law by President Obama.  It is part of a major tax extender package known as the Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH). This law extends the IRA Charitable Rollover retroactively to January 1, 2015 and makes it permanent.


What gifts qualify for an IRA charitable rollover?

  • You must be age 70 ½ or older when the gift is made.
  • The gift must come from a traditional IRA or Roth IRA account. Although 401(k), 403(b), SEP IRA accounts, and other retirement accounts do not qualify, it is possible to roll over qualified retirment plans to an IRA.
  • The gift must come directly from your IRA administrator to Bryn Mawr.
  • Total IRA charitable rollover gifts in any one year cannot exceed $100,000.
  • The IRA rollover gift can count toward your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) if you have not already taken your RMD for the year you make your gift.
  • The gift from your IRA will not be available as an income tax charitable deduction;
  • The gift from your IRA will be excluded from income.

To take advantage of this opportunity, notify the financial institution that manages your IRA account. Request the form to direct them to transfer a gift (a Qualified Charitable Distribution) to the College. The College’s Tax ID is 23-135262.

Option 2: Designate remaining retirement plan assets for Bryn Mawr College

You designate Bryn Mawr College on your IRA or qualified plan beneficiary designation form as the beneficiary of all or a portion of what remains in your retirement plan when the plan ends.

In addition to having the satisfaction of making a significant gift to Bryn Mawr, your benefits include:

  • Your heirs save federal and state taxes that can total 39.6% or more
  • You preserve non-retirement plan assets for family

Option 3: Designate remaining retirement plan assets for a life-income plan

You can designate on your IRA or qualified plan beneficiary designation form that the assets remaining when your plan ends be used to fund a gift arrangement that will make payments to family members or other loved ones for the rest of their lives. When the gift arrangement ends, what's left goes to Bryn Mawr College.

In addition to having the satisfaction of making a significant gift to Bryn Mawr, your benefits include:

  • Save federal and state taxes
  • Preserve non-retirement plan assets for family
  • Provide payments to family or other loved ones for life

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IRAs and qualified retirement plans
Retirement plan assets are a major source of wealth for many households. For example, you may have hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in your IRA, 401(k), 403(b), or other qualified retirement plan. These plans do not pay tax on the income they earn. This allows their assets to grow faster than if you held and invested these assets yourself.

The primary purpose of your retirement plan is to provide you with income during your retirement, but it can also be an excellent source of funds for making charitable gifts when your plan ends.

Taxes on remaining retirement assets can be very high
Your family members and other heirs will have to pay income tax on any distributions they receive from your retirement plan after you are gone. In addition, if your estate is large enough to owe estate tax, it will also pay estate tax on these distributions.

Federal income tax alone can be 37%. When you add federal income tax and estate tax together, they can total 62% or more. In states that assess their own taxes on estates, the total taxes on retirement plan assets paid to heirs can also be over 62%.

Give retirement plan assets to Bryn Mawr College and save taxes

In contrast to your retirement plan assets, most other assets in your estate will not be subject to income tax on top of estate tax. As a result, your estate and heirs will pay lower taxes if you pass these other assets to your heirs, and give your retirement plan assets to charity. Paying lower taxes will mean that more assets will reach your heirs. How much more will depend on the size of your estate, where you live, and the type of gift you make, but your savings will typically be tens of thousands of dollars on a $100,000 gift.

How do I pass retirement plan assets to Bryn Mawr? 
You have several good options for passing your retirement plan assets to us.

The simplest and most common way to give retirement plan assets to is to make our organization a designated beneficiary of your retirement plan. All you need to do is to tell the administrator of your retirement plan to designate our organization as a beneficiary of your plan and name the percentage of your remaining assets that you want us to receive. The retirement plan assets that you designate for us will avoid all income tax and estate tax. In order for your estate to enjoy both of these tax benefits, it is very important that you make our organization the designated beneficiary of these retirement plan assets, not your estate. Please identify us on the form as:

Legal name: Bryn Mawr College

Life-income plan
Another option for passing retirement plan assets to Bryn Mawr is through a life income plan. Passing assets to the College through a life income plan allows you to provide income to your loved ones after you are gone and then provide support to Bryn Mawr. Such a plan strikes a balance between leaving all of your retirement plan assets to loved ones and paying maximum taxes and leaving all of these assets to the College and eliminating taxes on them altogether. Here's how a life income plan works:

  1. Your retirement plan transfers the designated portion of its final balance to the life income plan. 
  2. The heirs you have chosen receive payments from the plan each year, typically for life. 
  3. When the life income plan ends, its remaining principal goes to support Bryn Mawr College.

Using retirement plan assets to fund a life income plan postpones income tax and reduces estate tax on these assets. A typical result is to reduce total taxes on your retirement assets by more than half compared to distributing them to your heirs through your estate.

Life-income plan options 
There are several life income plan options to choose from. The one that is right for you will depend on a variety of factors. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about funding a life income plan with assets from your retirement plan.


Jake, 75, is a retired business executive who has accumulated $500,000 in the retirement plan that he set up through his company years ago. He takes minimum distributions from his plan in order to preserve as much tax-free growth inside the plan as he can. At this rate, he expects that his account may still be worth 500,000 when he dies.

Jake has reached the time in his life when he has begun thinking about the legacies he wants to leave behind after he is gone. He decides to leave a bequest to Bryn Mawr College to create an endowed fund that will perpetuate generous support in his name. To accomplish his goals, he designates 40% of the final balance in his retirement account for Bryn Mawr College.


  • There will be no income tax or estate tax on the $200,000 of Jake's retirement plan assets that are transferred to Bryn Mawr. If Jake were to pass the same amount to his family and make his charitable gift with stock instead, his family would owe income tax of $74,000 (37% bracket) on the IRA assets, leaving only about $126,000 for their own use. There would be even greater tax savings if Jake's estate were large enough to pay estate tax. 
  • Jake has the immediate satisfaction of knowing that he has put a gift plan in place that will keep his name alive and support Bryn Mawr College long after he is gone.


The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income taxes include federal taxes only. State income/estate taxes or state law may impact your results.