Office of Gift Planning — Wills, Trusts, & Estates

Wills and Living Trusts

“My mother was the most compassionate woman you’d ever meet. She’d give you everything she had if you needed it. This is our way of honoring her legacy.”

Read about Jennifer Cirenza Bell (Nurs ’89) and Edward Bell (Darden ’89)’s gift >


Giving to the University through your will or living trust is often referred to as a “bequest.” A bequest from your estate may include cash, securities, real estate, and/or personal property. It can be for a specific amount or for a percentage of your estate.

Why Include the University in My Will?

Your bequest to the University is …

  • Tax Wise — A charitable gift through your estate may reduce estate taxes.
  • Revocable — You may change the beneficiaries of your estate at any time.
  • Flexible — Your bequest can be directed to any UVA school or program.
  • Comfortable — A bequest allows you to retain your assets throughout your life.

How Do I Make a Bequest to the University?

If you are writing your will or living trust, you will need to include specific language that correctly identifies your support of the University. If you already have a will, you can add a codicil or amendment to your existing estate plan. Or, if you already have a living trust, you would simply modify the language, directing your trustee to make the desired distributions.

Sample Language

Is This a New Practice?

James Madison’s bequest in 1836 of $1,500 established the first endowment at the University Library. This gift continues to provide funds annually for the purchase of books. In addition, Madison gave his personal library to the University.

Notify the University of Your Bequest

If you have already included the University in your estate plan, please let us know!

Informing the University of your gift does not obligate you or your estate in any way; it simply helps the University fully understand your gift intentions and ensures that there is a plan in place for implementing them. For example, if you would like to endow a scholarship, the University’s Office of Gift Planning can assist you in establishing the terms of that scholarship. Additionally, it allows the University to thank you appropriately. Of course, it is understood that you may change your bequest at any time.


The University of Virginia does not provide legal, tax or financial advice. We strongly recommend that you consult professional advisors on all legal, tax or financial matters, including gift planning considerations. To ensure compliance with certain IRS requirements, we disclose to you that this is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding tax-related penalties.


Heather Engel, JD
Associate Vice President for Gift Planning
Telephone: 800-688-9882