Beneficiary Designation

A beneficiary designation is one of the simplest ways to make a gift to Williams College. It's literally as easy as filling out a form. Typically you can do it on-line while accessing your account.  

You can specify the individuals and charities you want to support and you can also specify the percentage of the assets you want each beneficiary to receive.

Beneficiary designations are available when giving the following assets: 

Retirement Assets

An alternative to a bequest gift is to designate Williams College as the beneficiary of your retirement assets. This gift is simple because you can control the transfer of these assets at your death without changing your will or living trust. All you need to do is request (and complete) a new beneficiary designation form from your plan administrator (most plan administrators make this available on-line). There is no need to modify your will or living trust.

A gift of retirement assets has the added advantage of being among the most tax-wise ways to make an estate gift. This is because your retirement assets, if left to individuals, will be subject to income tax when they receive distributions and, in the case of most non-spouses, those distributions must take place within 10 years, potentially pushing designated beneficiaries into higher tax brackets. With a gift to a non-profit such as Williams, 100 percent of the funds are available for its charitable purposes. If you want to remember us in your estate plan, it is often better to leave other types of assets – cash, securities, real estate – to your heirs and give the more heavily taxed retirement asset to Williams College.

Donor Advised Funds (DAF)

If you have a DAF, a managed fund used to make your donations to charities over time, you can designate Williams as the beneficiary of all or part of whatever is in the account at your passing or whenever your account terminates. While DAFs are intended to be used for your family's charitable giving during yor life, it can be difficult to plan on expending all of the funds while you are living, especially because assets in a DAF grow tax-free. For this reason, it makes sense to designate a charity to receive the funds when you are no longer here to make charitable grant recommendations. 

Life Insurance

Life Insurance policies can also be used to make a gift to Williams. Complete and return to the insurance company a form designating that Williams College receives all or a portion of the death benefit associated with your life insurance policy. As an alternative to naming Williams as the beneficiary, you can transfer ownership of the policy. Transferring ownership results in an immediate income tax charitable deduction and, therefore, potential income tax savings in the year of the gift.

Other Assets

Commercial Annuity Contracts - a commercial annuity will sometimes have a remaining value at the end of the annuitant’s lifetime. You can name Williams to receive all or part of this amount by designating the college as a beneficiary (sole or partial) on the appropriate form from the insurance company.

Bank Accounts - you can instruct your bank to pay Williams all or a portion of what remains in a checking or savings account. Your bank can provide you with the appropriate beneficiary designation form.

Investment Accounts - you can instruct your investment company to transfer to the Williams some or all investments held in the account at the time of your passing. Your broker or agent can let you know the process for doing this – it may be as simple as adding “T.O.D. to Williams College” after your name on the account.