What comes to mind when you hear the term estate planning?

If you're like many people, you know it has something to do with having a will. You’d also be correct if you said it involves making certain other types of arrangements affecting what happens once your life has ended.

A good estate plan goes further and addresses many aspects of your current situation, as well as how to thrive in the years to come. Consider this definition of estate planning:

Estate planning is the process of caring for yourself and your assets while you are living, and planning for the orderly transfer of assets to other persons and organizations– both during your life and afterwards.

Why do estate planning?

Very few people wake up in the morning and wish they could spend the day working with their attorney to create an ‘estate plan.’ However, creating (or updating) a plan is among the most important things you can do. When you do, you can:

  • Ensure the wealth you have accumulated over your lifetime goes exactly where you want it to go and when. If you don’t have a will or living trust, the state will impose a distribution plan for you, which may or may not match your wishes.
  • Give directions to be followed in case you become incapacitated and can’t make decisions for yourself.
  • Organize your affairs and designate who will handle them when you are gone.
  • Appoint a guardian for minor-aged children.
  • Provide for any special needs your loved ones may have.
  • Minimize possible estate taxes and probate fees.
  • Specify the type of funeral arrangements you would like.
  • Remember and provide for friends, pets, and organizations you care about but are never a part of the default state distribution scheme.

By planning, you also make things easier for your family. If something happens to you, it will already be a very difficult time for your family and other loved ones. How wonderful it will be if they know exactly what you want to have happen and have the means at hand to follow your wishes. Consider the planning you do now to be your final future gift to your loved ones.

While estate planning can entail some difficult choices and means confronting uncomfortable issues, it does provide a sense of relief and peace of mind when it is done. You’ll know that you have done your best to plan and provide for yourself and for loved ones, as well as for the causes you’ve cared about during your lifetime. There is great satisfaction in knowing what your legacy on earth will be. 

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The Key Elements of an Estate Plan

Related to your final wishes

  • Will. A valid will is generally type written, dated, and signed by you as well as two legally competent witnesses. States differ as to the exact requirements for a valid will and whether a handwritten will, with or without witnesses, is valid. The probate court oversees administration of a valid will at death to carry out your instructions. The court charges probate fees to administer an estate and the documents and proceedings are public record.  
  • Revocable Living Trust. This replaces the will as the main document disposing of your property. You might hear it referred to as a “living trust” or “RLT.” The trust is created while you are living, and the power to change and even revoke it can be retained. Most often people serve as the trustee for their own revocable living trust. A living trust requires that you actually transfer your property into it for it to be effective. A living trust allows assets to pass to heirs outside of the probate process, potentially saving probate fees, and keeps your affairs private.

Typically, if a living trust is recommended your estate planning lawyer will also suggest a will as a backup document, to transfer any assets that weren’t included in your trust at the time of your death.

  • Beneficiary Designations. Your will or living trust does not control distribution of assets such as your IRA, commercial annuities, and some other assets at death. Your IRA or annuity administrator will distribute these types of assets according to a beneficiary designation form on file with their office. These are the forms you fill out when you establish IRAs or other types of retirement plans, or purchase a commercial annuity or life insurance policy. This form directs the administrator as to who will receive whatever remains upon your passing. You can also request a beneficiary designation for a bank or investment account. Since your will and living trust do not apply to these important assets, these beneficiary designations can have a profound impact on how your overall estate is distributed and should be part of any coordinated plan.

Providing for physical or mental incapacity

  • Power of Attorney (POA) for financial matters. This document grants to someone you trust the ability to act on your behalf for a variety of potential transactions and responsibilities. You decide when the POA will become effective and the extent of the authority granted. A POA is only effective during your lifetime and automatically terminates at your death.
  • Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) for health care decisions. This document appoints someone to make decisions for you regarding medical treatment if you are not able to make these decisions for yourself. It allows you to specify who is in charge of making critical treatment decisions and, perhaps more importantly, who does not have that authority.
  • Physician’s Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST). This document describes what health care treatment you want in case of an emergency. You work with your doctor to document your wishes regarding resuscitation and other life sustaining procedures.

Managing and distributing your wealth

You might conceive of the estate planning process as constructing a pyramid from the ground up. Primarily, you want to do what you can to ensure your own well-being. In so doing, keep in mind that it's not selfish to look out for yourself! Only by meeting your own needs now and in the future are you able to build the next level of the pyramid.

If you’re fortunate enough to accomplish some important basics, you’re then in a position to provide for family members and other loved ones. Thereafter, if you have the desire and the means, it becomes appropriate to think about a legacy you can leave for causes dear to you in addition to family and friends.

We hope that you will consider arranging a gift to Sigma Chi Foundation when you create (or update) your estate plan. We realize that we will never replace family members and other loved ones in your plans, and we wouldn’t want to. Part of your planning process is to consider how much to leave to individual heirs; what remains can be used to fulfill your charitable dreams and desires.

How much to leave to children and grandchildren is a judgment call. Some parents transfer as much of their estates as possible to heirs. Others fear that transferring too much wealth may discourage productivity and undermine self-motivation. A memorable line from the movie The Descendants encapsulates this debate nicely: “…you [want to] give your children enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing.”  Still others realize that the community and world they leave to their children and grandchildren is also part of their legacy.

If you would like to support Sigma Chi Foundation through your will or living trust, click here for sample bequest wording you can share with your attorney. Or consider a gift by beneficiary designation also known as a "bequest substitute". It has many of the same advantages as a bequest while being among the most tax-wise ways to give.

Donors-Scholars Initiative

Each year, your generous donations make it possible for the Sigma Chi Foundation to grant numerous academic scholarships and awards to our deserving undergraduate and graduate brothers. Providing scholarships and academic awards furthers the Foundation’s goal to promote academic excellence. We proudly award brothers who show outstanding leadership, academic motivation and commitment to their chapters and campuses. The Sigma Chi Foundation will provide $505,000 in academic scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students over the 2018-19 academic year. This year, your gifts impacted individuals from 169 different Sigma Chi chapters. This includes an 12th-consecutive annual increase of $25,000 or more in awards.

The Sigma Chi Foundation’s Donor-Scholar Initiative provides a naming opportunity to interested alumni who wish to directly support the Foundation’s expanding scholarship program. Donors contributing to this effort at an endowment level (a one-time gift of $25,000) will have an annual academic scholarship named for themselves, or an honoree, for a minimum of 30 years. Donors are also encouraged to establish a mentor relationship with the recipient(s).

learning continuum

Our overarching goal is to positively impact every undergraduate brother every year with values-based leadership training and support.  Sigma Chi is focused on the relevant issues confronting our brothers on college campuses today, better educating these young men on alcohol misuse, drug abuse, hazing, sexual misconduct, suicide, depression and much more through an integrated presentation of our values.

By providing our members with world-class leadership initiatives, through the support of major gifts to the Foundation, Sigma Chi is helping young men develop into character-based leaders who are committed to the betterment of their chapters, campus and community.

The curriculum leads brothers to reflect upon leadership within themselves and the actions they take in everyday life, and think about how that impacts their communities and others. These modules allow our in-person programming to be more targeted and effective.

Click here to learn more about Sigma Chi’s leadership initiatives supported by the Sigma Chi Foundation.

planned giving

“I wanted to reflect that my career arc was fundamentally improved because of Sigma Chi. And I wanted to be able to leave a legacy beyond my own life that would provide that opportunity to others. ... What Sigma Chi and the Foundation do is help build good men. Our nation needs that, and I thought there was no better way to support that than through a planned gift to the Foundation so the next generation can have the benefit of Sigma Chi and learn and grow as young men.”

John Pasquantino UNLV 1984
White House Deputy Associate Director, Office of Management and Budget

Leave A Legacy

A planned gift to the Sigma Chi Foundation enables a brother to define their legacy and directly impact the lives of future Sigma Chis and our Fraternity.

Why are planned gifts so important? Our ‘One Voice’ strategic plan envisions a $100 million cash reserve that will expand world-class leadership programming and academic scholarships. While we are making great progress, planned gifts will be vital to our ultimate success.

By including Sigma Chi Foundation in your estate plan, you will help us achieve our goal and, at the same time, enjoy practical advantages for your estate and heirs.

Here are ways you can leave a legacy:

gifts by bequest

A bequest to Sigma Chi Foundation can be made for a specific amount, a percentage of your estate, or all or a portion of what is left after you have provided for your family. With a bequest, you retain control of and use of your assets during your lifetime and can potentially save on income taxes, capital gains and estate taxes.

life insurance gifts

Life insurance policies are powerful philanthropic tools often allowing a donor to make a much larger donation than they ever thought possible. Donors can name Sigma Chi Foundation as their beneficiary or transfer poilcy ownership to the Foundation and then make tax deductible gifts to pay the premiums. Sigma Chi Foundation receives the proceeds of the policy after your lifetime.

life income gifts

Your gift can be structured to provide you income for life. Sigma Chi Foundation will make a fixed payment to you for life with the remainder benefiting the Fraternity. Such arrangements are particularly appealing because donors can often reduce taxes and increase their spendable income. You benefit now and Sigma Chi benefits later.

gifts of retirement assets

Designating Sigma Chi Foundation as a beneficiary of all or a specified percentage of your 401(k) or other retirement plan assets can save your estate both income and estate taxes. Additionally, if you are age 70.5 or older, you can roll over up to $100,000 a year from your IRA as a charitable gift and count it towards your required minimum distribution.

bell chapter challenge

As an undergrad, your home chapter was your Sigma Chi world. It was where you forged your leadership skills, formed lifelong bonds of friendship and shaped what kind of man you would become. Please consider engaging with your Sigma Chi Foundation to continue that rich legacy at your chapter.

make your chapter a bell chapter

Sigma Chi has made a difference in the lives of over 300,000 brothers and these brothers want to give back. More importantly they want to give back to where they lived Sigma Chi, their own chapter. The Bell Chapter Challenge provides an excellent opportunity to make this happen and provides your chapter with enhanced benefits from the Foundation.

Your unrestricted, and tax-deductible, gift to the Sigma Chi Foundation will support the key leadership and scholarship programs provided by Sigma Chi for your chapter. These cutting-edge, valuesbased opportunities help change the lives of undergraduates at your chapter, bringing them to their full potential in college and life.

Our chapters need strong, values-based leaders to grow stronger. Engage with your Sigma Chi Foundation today and cultivate tomorrow’s leaders!

benefits provided to bell chapters

  • Krach Transformational Leaders Workshop
    Bell Chapters can send up to 5 additional attendees to Workshop for free.
    Gold level Bell Chapters will receive an additional $1,000 travel stipend for Workshop.
  • Horizons Leadership Training Program
    Bell Chapters will receive up to 2 designated slots for qualified undergraduates
  • Academic Scholarships
    Bell Chapters will receive up to 3 designated $1,000 academic scholarships for qualified undergraduates.
  • Education and Leadership Stipend
    Gold Level Bell Chapters will receive a $3,000 educational stipend to cover the costs of educational programming for the chapter.
  • Crossroads Program
    Bell Chapters will receive the Crossroads program at no cost.
LEVELS BLUE GOLD
Amount $10,000 per year
$250,000 Endow*
$20,000 per year
$500,000 Endow*
Chapter Benefits
  • 3 Additional free registration slots at KTLW (8 Total)
  • $250 KTLW Travel Stipend
  • 1 Designated Horizons Slot
  • 2 Designated $1,000 Academic Scholarships that will recognize lead donor
  • Crossroads retreat at no cost to Chapter
  • Donor plaque for chapter house
  • 1 Exclusive Bell Chapter Dinner invite at KTLW
  • 5 Additional free registration slots at KTLW (10 Total)
  • $1,000 KTLW Travel Stipend
  • 2 Designated Horizons Slots
  • 3 Designated $1,000 Academic Scholarships that will recognize lead donor
  • Crossroads retreat at no cost to Chapter
  • $3,000 Stipend for Journey Chapter Retreat
  • Donor plaque for chapter house
  • 1 Exclusive Bell Chapter Dinner invite at KTLW
  • Krach Transformational Leaders Workshop
    Bell Chapters can send up to 5 additional attendees to Workshop for free.
    Gold level Bell Chapters will receive an additional $1,000 travel stipend for Workshop.
  • Horizons Leadership Training Program
    Bell Chapters will receive up to 2 designated slots for qualified undergraduates
  • Academic Scholarships
    Bell Chapters will receive up to 3 designated $1,000 academic scholarships for qualified undergraduates.
  • Education and Leadership Stipend
    Gold Level Bell Chapters will receive a $3,000 educational stipend to cover the costs of educational programming for the chapter.
  • Crossroads Program
    Bell Chapters will receive the Crossroads program at no cost.
Blue  
Amount
  • $10,000 per year
  • $250,000 Endow*
Chapter
Benefits
  • 3 Additional free registration slots at KTLW (8 total)
  • $250 KTLW Travel Stipend
  • 1 Designated Horizons Slot
  • 2 Designated $1,000 Academic Scholarships that will recognize lead donor
  • Crossroads retreat at no cost to Chapter
  • Donor plaque for chapter house
  • 1 Exclusive Bell Chapter Dinner invite at KTLW
Gold  
Amount
  • $20,000 per year
  • $500,000 Endow*
Chapter
Benefits
  • 5 Additional free registration slots at KTLW (10 total)
  • $1000 KTLW Travel Stipend
  • 2 Designated Horizons Slot
  • 3 Designated $1,000 Academic Scholarships that will recognize lead donor
  • Crossroads retreat at no cost to Chapter
  • $3,000 Stipend for Journey Chapter Retreat
  • Donor plaque for chapter house
  • 1 Exclusive Bell Chapter Dinner invite at KTLW

*Based on accumulated cash in your chapter’s Bell Fund.

For more information contact Dakota Chavez, Associate Director of Development, at (847) 425-4408.

Did you know?

The Sigma Chi Foundation is eligible for all company matched gifts made to 501 (c) (3) foundations. Please check with your employer to see if you can double the size of your gift!

Bell Chapter List for 2019-2020

other ways to give

memorial gifts

You may wish to direct memorial gifts to the Sigma Chi Foundation to honor the memory of a deceased brother. Unrestricted gifts will be applied to the area of greatest need to support educational and leadership development opportunities for undergraduate members. Gifts may also be directed to a specific chapter or program fund. The Sigma Chi Foundation is a 501 (c) (3), charitable, educational organization and gifts are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law. Following is suggested language that may be used in an obituary to direct gifts to the Sigma Chi Foundation on behalf of a brother who enters the Chapter Eternal.

Contributions may be made to the Sigma Chi Foundation, 1714 Hinman Ave., Evanston, IL 60201.

matching gifts

The Sigma Chi Foundation is eligible for all company matched gifts made to 501 (c) (3) foundations. Please check with your employer to see if you can double the size of your gift!

distinguished visitors program

The Sigma Chi Foundation’s Distinguished Visitors program has provided alumni with an opportunity to reconnect to their Sigma Chi roots and impact undergraduate brothers since its inception in the 1980s. This year, 24 brothers attended the Huntsman Horizons Leadership Summit in Snowbird, Utah or the Balfour Leadership Training Workshop in Bowling Green, Ohio. During their visits, these men, who are among Sigma Chi’s most accomplished brothers, shared their values, their wisdom and their perspective on leadership with undergraduate brothers.

regional alumni receptions

Over the course of the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year, the Sigma Chi Foundation Board of Governors and staff made a targeted effort to connect with alumni in United States metropolitan areas with special reception events. Hosted by Foundation board members and donors, these events provided an opportunity to deliver updates from the General Fraternity and to discuss Sigma Chi’s forward direction. The receptions will expand to new regional locations over the present 2019 to 2020 fiscal year. For more information on these events or to receive a reminder when the Sigma Chi Foundation visits your area, e-mail the Foundation at foundation@sigmachi.org.

volunteering

Have some time on your hands and would like to contribute in other ways? Then consider the Fraternity’s volunteer programs. Help out on the international level in fraternity governance, on leadership programs such as the Balfour Leadership Training Workshop, or on one of the committees that keeps the organization running.

amazon smile

Did you know that you can contribute to Sigma Chi while making an online purchase through Amazon? Visit smile.amazon.com and select the Sigma Chi Foundation as your philanthropy of choice. A small percentage of each purchase made through Amazon Smile will support the leadership mission of Sigma Chi.