Development and Planned Giving

Stevens & Lee has been at the forefront of the contemporary planned giving movement since its beginning in the early 1990s. For over 20 years, our team has counseled colleges and universities, foundations and other not-for-profits on the myriad of tax and legal complexities involved in development programs, in gift use and fund allocation, and in maximizing the value of donors’ gifts. One of our attorneys, who has more than 30 years of experience in trusts and estates law, was a founder of the Gift Planning Council of New Jersey and is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

Our decades-long representation of colleges and universities in traditional legal and education law matters has given us a strong foundation and a clear understanding of the importance a well-structured planned giving program plays in a higher education setting. We have broad experience in the areas significant to planned giving, including:

  • Charitable trusts
  • Gift acceptance policies
  • Gift and estate tax planning
  • Interpreting and reforming trusts
  • Probate issues and contested estates
  • Gifts of unusual assets
  • Litigation on behalf of beneficiaries and trustees

Colleges and universities regularly look to Stevens & Lee for answers to questions regarding compliance with conditions placed on gifts, enforcement of pledges, monitoring of estates and trusts to ensure proper administration and the reformation of various gifting instruments to best benefit the institution and its donors. Among other areas, we regularly assist our higher education clients in the preparation and implementation of planned giving programs and gift acceptance policies and advise them on the administration of donor-restricted funds.

Our representative experience includes:

  • Served as counsel to one of the most prestigious medical universities in the country in its receipt of a $225 million gift from a private donor
  • Assisted in structuring a $100 million unrestricted gift to a research institute
  • Reviewed all endowed gifts for three Philadelphia hospitals to ensure compliance with donor restrictions, then obtained court approval to modify obsolete restrictions, thus significantly enhancing the income available to the client
  • Established gift annuity programs and registered New Jersey and out-of-state charities with the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance
  • Obtained a favorable settlement for a charitable beneficiary for a $10 million estate in which the adopted children of the donor challenged the donor’s competence
  • Represented charities that had been disinherited from a long-time donor’s estate by pre-death gifts to her agent under a power of attorney
  • Consulted on a proposed gift of LLC interests and prepared documentation of those interests to protect our charitable client
  • Negotiated with an estate to enforce a forgotten $1 million pledge, handled these negotiations without litigation and also maintained a good relationship with the donor’s family
  • Advised a large charity about submitting a Private Letter Ruling request to the IRS to allow donor funds to be invested with the charity’s endowment
  • Addressed cy pres issues associated with the use of endowed and restricted funds in circumstances of institutional merger
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