Giving: The Legacy Circle

Making the World a Better Place

“Outstanding academics. Huge, welcoming community. This school is building leaders, mensches, thinkers, and citizens who will contribute immensely to making the world a better place. I am so proud of what my son is becoming on YOUR watch, Brandeis! Thank you!”

That’s what one parent recently wrote about Brandeis and what so many others are saying. I couldn’t agree more. This is also a primary reason why my family and I have planned to help sustain Brandeis Marin for many years to come.

By leaving a gift to Brandeis in our estate plans, together we’ll ensure the strength and vibrancy of Brandeis Marin for generations. Moreover, including charitable giving in your estate plan expresses your values. It sets an example for your children, highlighting the value placed on charitable giving. Your estate plan demonstrates a commitment to help others. When you include a charity in your estate plan, you leave a legacy that will last beyond your life. And it doesn’t cost anything now! There are many ways to create your best legacy.

#1 RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS: Often, the simplest and most tax efficient vehicle, you can name charities directly on the beneficiary designation form for a retirement account, such as an IRA. It’s simple because you don’t even need an attorney to complete the form, and it’s tax efficient because unlike your family who has to pay income tax on the distributions from the retirement account, the charitable organization will receive the assets free of income tax.

#2 LIFE INSURANCE: Naming a charity on the beneficiary designation form for life insurance is also a simple and easy way to give. By naming Brandeis Marin on the short, simple form provided by the life insurance agent, the insurance will pass directly to Brandeis Marin without any court proceeding.

#3 DESIGNATION IN LIVING TRUST: Including Brandeis Marin in a simple Living Trust is another way to ensure that your legacy of giving outlives you. The gift can be directed so Brandeis Marin has immediate access to the gift or can be held in a special fund known as an Endowment Fund in which the funds are invested and grow, giving Brandeis Marin a stream of income in perpetuity. Naming the fund after a loved one helps make their memory a blessing.

#4 CHARITABLE REMAINDER TRUSTS: Forming trusts for charity, structured so that you can keep lifetime income for your support and give Brandeis Marin the remaining balance at death, often has an added benefit of minimizing income tax during life. Using life insurance with the charitable trust can further enhance the planning, benefiting your family while still leaving a meaningful charitable legacy.

And the list goes on. Whatever vehicle you chose, we want to recognize your generosity by including you in Brandeis Marin’s Legacy Circle. Being recognized in the “Legacy Circle” encourages those you leave behind to consider the charity’s importance and impact and sets an example for others.

As told in Oral Jewish law written 2,500 years ago (Ta’anit 23a), while walking along a road, a sage (named Choni) saw a man planting a carob tree. He asked him: “How long will it take for this tree to bear fruit?” “Seventy years,” replied the man. The sage then asked: “Are you so healthy a man that you expect to live that length of time and eat its fruit?” The man answered: “I found a world containing carob trees, because my ancestors planted them for me. Likewise I am planting for my children.”

Let’s plant now to ensure that Brandeis Marin thrives for generations to come. Please join my husband, Jeff, and me -- and many others -- by including Brandeis Marin in your estate plan. To start creating your best legacy today, contact Barbara Harris (, Director of Advancement at Brandeis Marin. We look forward to adding your name to the growing list of Brandeis Marin Legacy Circle donors!

Michelle Lerman
Brandeis Marin Board of Trustees and Alumni Parent

About Michelle:

Attorney Michelle C. Lerman (mother of alumnae Ryan, Jason, Brianna and Paige) has been selected for Super Lawyers® of Northern California- 2009, 2010, 2017, and 2018. She is an author of Create Your Best Legacy*, a frequent guest on radio and TV, and certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Legal Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law. Co-founding Lerman Law Partners LLP with her husband of 36 years, Jeffrey H. Lerman, they help parents, homeowners and real estate investors with estate planning, real estate and litigation.

*Click here to view Create Your Best Legacy, 2018 Third Edition, by Michelle Lerman.

This article is not intended as legal advice about your situation. Be sure to talk with your attorney and tax advisor about the best planning options for your situation.