Planned Giving News
Regularly updated, informative features about developments in planned giving at Curtis and how you can make a lasting gift to the school by including the Curtis Institute of Music in your financial and estate plan.
planned giving news - your legacy of music at curtis
Tax-Smart Giving Is More Important Than Ever
The turmoil and volatility in the market last month reminds us that we all need to pay attention to the ever-changing economic and tax landscape. Between now and the end of the year, consider reviewing your investment portfolio with an eye to taking advantage of a"tried and true" tax break: avoiding capital gains by gifting appreciated securities. And if you're over age 70 1/2 and the owner of an IRA, keep an eye out for possible congressional action to extend the IRA Charitable Rollover (see below). Remember, December 31 always arrives sooner than we think. The time to begin expoloring your options is now.
Will There Be An IRA Charitable Rollover Extension?
On the evening of December 16, 2014, the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, extending IRA charitable rollover provisions through December 31, 2014. President Obama signed the bill into law on December 19, 2014. A number of contributors to Curtis took advantage of the 2014 extension by making gifts during the last few weeks of 2014.
The one-year charitable rollover extension applied only to gifts made in calendar year 2014. The provision allows people over 70 1/2 years of age to make charitable gifts--up to $100,000--directly from their IRAs that qualify for the minimum required distribution without reporting the distributions as taxable income. For those who do not itemize deductions, this is a good deal.
Early in December 2014, the House voted on another bill, H.R. 5806, which would have made the IRA charitable rollover provisions permanent, but it did not receive enough votes. When considered on December 11, the bill was eight votes shy of the two-thirds super-majority needed. We expect those who support the IRA charitable rollover to be urging the current (2015) Congress to reconsider making the IRA Charitable Rollover a permanent feature of our tax law.
As we did last year, our advancement office will have a one-page summary of the IRA Charitable Rollover provisions as soon as Congress acts on extender legislation. If you'd like to receive a copy, please call the Curtis advancement office at (215) 893-5279, or contact Charles Sterne III, director of principal gifts and planned giving, at email@example.com.
Charitable Gift Annuities at Curtis
Some of our contributors may not realize that Curtis can pay them an annuity in return for a gift to the school--a gift that will help us build a stronger endowment. For example, a 70-year-old donor can receive a 5.1% annuity from Curtis in return for a gift of $10,000 or more. Charitable gift annuities also provide additional benefits to donors who give appreciated securities, due to favorable capital gains tax treatment. And right now, gift annuity rates are very attractive relative to interest rates earned on savings accounts and fixed-income securities.
Some restrictions apply, and there are currently fifteen states where Curtis will not issue charitable gift annuities to residents. These states require onerous registration and/or reporting, or restrict how Curtis invests the gift. For residents of these restrictive states, we can offer other options such as charitable remainder trusts and the Curtis Pooled Income Fund.
To learn more and obtain a copy of our publication, "Information Concerning the Gift Annuity Program at the Curtis Institute of Music," please contact Charles Sterne III, director of principal gifts and planned giving, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (215) 717-3126.
Federal Estate and Gift Tax Update
A large measure of stability returned to the realm of federal gift and estate taxes with the enactment of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which set the unified estate and gift tax exemption at $5 million. The exemption is indexed for inflation, and rose to $5.25 million for 2013, $5.34 million for 2014, and now $5.43 million in 2015. The "top tax rate" is currently 40%, so the estate tax charitable deduction has become an even more powerful incentive for those with very large estates.
Low Interest Rates and the Charitable Lead Trust
The above-mentioned $5.43 million lifetime estate and gift tax exemption, combined with low interest rates, continues to present an attractive opportunity for high-wealth donors to save on transfers to their heirs with a charitable lead trust. The IRS discount rate, currently 2.2% (September 2015), is very low. If you'd like to learn more about charitable lead trusts and other trust arrangements that may help you achieve your estate and financial goals while providing much-needed funds to Curtis, please contact your professional advisors or the Curtis advancement office at (215) 893-5279.
Is There a Life-Income Plan That's Right For You?
You can make a significant gift to Curtis, in exchange for which Curtis will send you regular income or annuity payments. Your gift will help the school build a stronger endowment for the future, while giving you a current tax deduction, capital gains tax advantage, and life-income payments. Life-income gifts also reduce the costs associated with estate administration. Your gift will ultimately be added to the school's endowment to help educate and train the next generation of Curtis students. To receive a personalized illustration and learn more about life-income plans at Curtis, please contact Charles Sterne III, director of principal gifts and planned giving, at email@example.com or call (215) 717-3126.
Curtis is grateful to the alumni who regularly support the Curtis Annual Fund, and to the following alumni whose recent bequests have strengthened the school's endowment. Their gifts make it possible for Curtis to be tuition-free and provide support for the training of Curtis students for many years to come, allowing the next generation of musicians to have the same opportunities they did:
William Burns (Double Bass '63) was a member of the double bass section of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for 49 years, starting out when Lukas Foss was the orchestra's music director. Mr. Burns studied at Curtis in the early 1960s with Roger Scott. Mr. Burns died at 73 years of age, a month after suffering a stroke. He named Curtis the beneficiary of his retirement plan, which has funded a $1.2 million endowment fund to benefit all Curtis students.
Alfred V. Brown (Viola '52) was an accomplished musician, arranger and producer in New York, and one of the first African-American musicians to succeed in the the studio recording business. At Curtis, he studied with William Primrose and Karen Tuttle. Through his estate plan, Mr. Brown, who passed away in November 2013, gave Curtis his Max Frirsz viola and a Hill & Sons bow.
- David Schwartz (Viola '37) became a highly sought-after studio musician in Los Angeles following his early years as a member of Paganini Quartet and as a founding member of the Yale String Quartet. One of the founders of the Curtis Alumni Association West, David served as its first treasurer and charmed us with an endless supply of stories from the early days of Curtis and the glory days of Hollywood. Early supporters of the school's planned giving program, David and Jane Schwartz established a family trust that directs a generous gift to Curtis.
- Suzanne Hanson Poole (Voice '50) was a generous supporter of the arts in her home state of New Mexico. Over the past two decades, Suzy served as a member of the alumni council, encouraged alumni to give back to the school, and made a substantial gift to the Lenfest-Annenberg Challenge. An additional $1 million gift from Suzy's estate will provide funds to train Curtis students for many years to come.
- Gaetano A. Molieri (Viola '35) was a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1970 until his retirement in 1999. With a generous bequest in his will, Mr. Molieri established a viola scholarship fund at Curtis in memory of his teacher, William Primrose. In addition, many of Mr. Molieri's friends and Philadelphia Orchestra colleagues have made conributions to the fund in his memory.
- Karen Tuttle (Viola '48) left a generous gift to Curtis from her estate. A beloved musician and teacher, Ms. Tuttle first served on the Curtis faculty in 1945 and continued teaching until shortly before her death in 2010.
- Ralph Berkowitz (Accompanying '35) was an early Curtis faculty member and cellist Gregor Piatigorsky's accompanyist for 30 years. As Tanglewood's artistic director, he collaborated with Darius Milhaud, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and Serge Koussevitsky. Ralph endowed a studio at Curtis in memory of his first wife, Freda Pastor Berkowitz, and established the Ralph Berkowitz Fellowship for Curtis pianists.
- Ingrid Sobolewska (Voice '41) was a student of the legendary voice teacher Madame Euphemia Giannini Gregory, who was a member of the Curtis faculty from 1927 through 1973. When she studied at Curtis, Ms. Sobelewska went by the name Muriel Robertson.
- Wells Gemberling (Composition '46) left a bequest to Curtis in the name of, and as a memorial to, Sylvia Zaremba. Mr. Gemberling studied composition at Curtis with Rosario Scarlaro, the same teacher who trained Leonard Bernstein (Conducting '41).
- Anna Bukay Hannaford (Harp '43) was a student of Carlos Salzedo, one of the original Curtis faculty members in 1924. Through her trust arrangements, Mrs. Hannaford left Curtis her 1946 Lyon and Healy harp.
- Ellen Faull Gordon (Voice '45) studied voice at Curtis with Madame Gregory and left a generous gift to the school at her death. Her career spanned 40 years on stage and 45 years as a nationally respected teacher. Her daughter, Judith Gordon, told us, "My mother loved her time at Curtis and felt strongly that the investment Curtis makes in young artists is returned in manifold ways."
- Barbara Elliott Bailey (Piano '43) studied piano at Curtis with Isabelle Vengerova, a member of the original Curtis faculty. Among other accomplishments in her career, Mrs. Bailey performed as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and collaborated with numerous chamber music groups. She was an active member of the alumni council and one of the first alumni to join the Founder's Society.
- Eudice Shapiro Kast (Violin '35) studied with legendary violinist Efrem Zimbalist. Her bequest was made in her name and in the name of her late husband, Victor Gottleib (Cello '35). Ms. Shapiro performed frequently at the Hollywood Bowl. In her later years, she was a master teacher at the USC Thornton School of Music.
Honor a Family Member With a Gift to Curtis in Your Will
- There is no better way to honor the memory of a loved one than with an endowment gift to Curtis.
- Since 1928, every Curtis student has received a full-tuition scholarship.
- Curtis is committed to, and focused on, its mission.
- For more than 90 years, Curtis has maintained the highest standards.
- Your gift to the school's endowment will create a meaningful and enduring legacy.
- You can, if you wish, direct your endowment gifts to provide much-needed financial aid for Curtis students.
- A gift of $250,000 will endow a fellowship for a Curtis student.
- The school's endowment has a long history of being productive and prudently managed.
The Founder’s Society Comes of Age
Begun in 1992 by a handful of Curtis trustees, the Founder's Society is now celebrating its 22nd year! Currently there are 185 Founder's Society members, ranging in age from 23 to 99. About one-third of our Founder's Society members are Curtis alums. Other members include Curtis and Bok Foundation trustees, parents of Curtis students, parents of Curtis alumni, faculty and staff members, and many others who share a strong interest in Curtis.
The Founder's Society is named for Mary Louise Curtis Bok, a visionary dedicated to giving young musicians the very best musical training. At the urging of the school's director, the legendary pianist Josef Hofmann, Mrs. Bok established the school's merit-based full-tuition policy by making a gift of $12.5 million to the Mary Louise Curtis Bok Foundation. Although Mrs. Bok died in 1970, her legacy has endured, and Curtis continues to award full scholarships to all students, ensuring that admission is based solely on musical talent and artistic promise.
Once you become a member of the Founder's Society, you'll receive a subscription to Overtones, receive information about upcoming performances, and be alerted to significant developments at the school. In addition, Founder's Society members are recognized in concert and opera programs and in the school's annual report. To receive a copy of our Founder’s Society brochure and our non-binding Letter of Intent, please send a message to Charles Sterne III, director of principal gifts and planned giving.
Working With Your Professional Advisors
This page is updated regularly by the Curtis Institute of Music to inform alumni and friends of ways to ensure the future of Curtis through their estate and financial-planning arrangements. The information presented here is not intended as legal advice. We encourage you to consult your attorney and tax advisor to discuss how the ideas presented here may apply to your situation.
For additional information about planned gifts, including bequests and life income gifts, or establishing an endowment fund at Curtis, please e-mail Charles Sterne III, director of principal gifts and planned giving, or call (215) 717-3126.