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Longtime Volunteer Leaves Generous Gift

Elizabeth Verdow was a retired Detroit Public Schools art teacher when she began volunteering at the DIA in 1990. For 19 years she enjoyed working in the museum shop. Only after Betty's death in 2014 did we learn she had left the museum nearly her entire estate, a gift of more than $1.7 million.

One portion of Betty's gift was unrestricted and was added to the DIA's operating endowment fund. Raising an endowment to support operating costs is the museum's top priority and will ensure our financial future. Thus, this gift was especially welcome.

Betty chose to restrict the second part of her gift to purchasing contemporary paintings and sculpture. In appreciation, the DIA has created the Elizabeth Verdow Contemporary Art Acquisition Fund. Art acquired with this fund will be identified with gallery labels bearing Betty's name. In this way, her wonderful legacy will be shared with visitors for years to come.

DIA Director Salvador Salort-Pons said Verdow "enriched the lives of countless visitors during her years of volunteer service, and her gift will help enhance our contemporary art collection, greatly benefiting our community. We are so inspired by her philanthropy and civic commitment. She has set a very high example for all. We are deeply grateful and moved."

Anne Helkowsky, who served as manager of the museum shop from 2001 to 2012, said, "She was the quietest and most unassuming person I've ever met as a volunteer. She was one of those wonderful people who would come in and just say, 'What may I help you with today?'"

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Detroit Institute of Arts a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I, [name], of [city, state, ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to Detroit Institute of Arts [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

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A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

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the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

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A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to DIA or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

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You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the gift tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and receive an immediate federal income tax charitable deduction. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to DIA as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and receive an immediate federal income tax charitable deduction. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to DIA as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and DIA where you agree to make a gift to DIA and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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