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The Last Gift to Her Husband: A Commitment to FSU

Elaine and Robert Alexander

Elaine and Robert Alexander

For Elaine Alexander, a non-alumna of Florida State who lived 3,000 miles from Tallahassee in the Seattle area, the opportunity to connect with FSU was seldom.

But all of that changed when her husband, Robert C. Alexander '68, '72, lost his battle with cancer in late 2009. Since then, an unlikely journey has taken place, and new connections, grand generosity and the ultimate pursuit of the greater good have helped Elaine heal the wounds left by the loss of her husband.

Connecting Through Values

Elaine's tie to Florida State is through her husband, Bob, who received both his undergraduate degree in business administration and an MBA from Florida State's College of Business. Elaine remembers life in Tallahassee while Bob was in school, but during her return to the area for last year's James D. Westcott Legacy Society Luncheon, she acknowledged how many things have changed about the city and the Florida State campus.

One thing, though, remained the same almost 40 years later: the house she and Bob rented in 1972. "I was shocked to see that our old house was still standing and looked virtually the same," Elaine says.

Providing Opportunity for Students Most in Need

To honor the memory of her beloved husband, Elaine decided to make multiple gifts to FSU that would provide assistance to students who demonstrate financial need. Through an outright gift, Elaine first established the Robert C. Alexander Scholarship Fund for students enrolled in the MBA program in the College of Business.

"Deferred gifts are great," Elaine says, "but immediate gifts are really, very rewarding." After generously creating the scholarship, Elaine then decided to name FSU as beneficiary of her IRA and investment account, which, she says, her husband would have appreciated.

"Bob had named Florida State as a contingent beneficiary of his estate, and I wanted to honor him and fulfill his wishes."

By choosing to make both an outright gift and an estate gift, Elaine's generosity has yielded not only immediate results, but will ultimately benefit students in perpetuity. She encourages others to consider making similar gifts through their estate plan as a way to honor loved ones.

"A planned gift was a great way to involve Bob's entire family in honoring his life," Elaine says. "Bob had such a wonderful spirit of adventure, and it gave me a great deal of pleasure to honor him in a way that will help others fulfill their dreams."


A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Florida State University 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 give to Florida State University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at Tallahassee, Florida, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

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.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

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

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

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 the FSU Foundation 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.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

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 potential 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 may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. 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 the FSU Foundation as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. 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 the FSU Foundation 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 the FSU Foundation where you agree to make a gift to the FSU Foundation 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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