Legacy Giving FAQ

What is planned giving?

You can make a planned gift (sometimes called a “deferred gift”) to First Church Berkeley through your will or trust, retirement funds, life income gifts (e.g. gift annuities that provide the donor with income during their life and after their death provide remaining principal of the gift to the church), and certain life insurance policy arrangements. Planned gifts are almost always funded from accumulated resources or assets rather than income, and are typically planned for during the donor’s lifetime but not actually received until after the donor’s death. Planned giving enables individuals to make sound financial plans that take into their own needs and those of family, as well as commitments to church and charities. 

Why are planned gifts important to First Church Berkeley?

By including First Church Berkeley in your planned giving, you will become a member of the First Church Berkeley Legacy Circle and help contribute to the financial sustainability of this important faith institution for generations to come. Planned gifts are added to First Church Berkeley’s endowment which is prudently invested and managed by the church’s Endowment and Investment Committee. 

What is the Legacy Giving Circle and how can I join?

Anyone who establishes a legacy gift to First Church Berkeley and has completed the Legacy Circle Form is automatically made a member of the First Church Berkeley Legacy Circle. It is our means of recognizing your lasting commitment to First Church Berkeley. If you wish to be an anonymous member, you may do so. If you have already made a legacy commitment to First Church Berkeley in your estate plan, we would love to hear from you so we are able to thank you for your generosity, make you a member of the Legacy Circle, and use the information to assist in our long-term financial planning. Please complete the Legacy Circle Form and email it to Kit Dunbar, Church Business Manager, at [email protected], or send it to First Church Berkeley, 2330 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704; attn: Kit Dunbar, Business Manager.

What types of legacy gifts are currently supported?

The Legacy Circle currently supports these types of legacy gifts, including:

  • Bequests to First Church Berkeley in your will or revocable trust.
  • Designating First Church Berkeley as a beneficiary of your IRA, 401(k) or other retirement account.
  • Designating First Church Berkeley as a beneficiary of your life insurance policy; and 
  • Planned Giving life income gifts administered by the UCC through the United Church Foundation, in cooperation with the UCC Financial Development Ministry, including:
    • Charitable Gift Annuities
    • Pooled Income Fund gifts
    • Charitable Remainder Trusts

Please consult your tax advisor and/or attorney for more information, as the church is unable to provide specific tax or legal advice.

A bequest is a provision in your will or revocable trust designating a fixed dollar amount, a percentage of your assets, or the remainder of your estate, be given to First Church Berkeley upon settlement of your estate. Most bequests are fully revocable while you are alive. Please consult an attorney with respect to the specific language requirements for your will or trust.

Retirement Plan Beneficiary Designations
You can designate First Church Berkeley as a beneficiary of your IRA, 401(k), or 403(b) plan, for a specific amount or a percentage of total assets. Such gifts can save on income and estate taxes.  Retirement assets are subject to income taxes when paid out to a taxable entity. In contrast, nonprofit organizations such as First Church Berkeley are eligible to receive such assets without facing income tax liability. Common approaches include:

  • Designating First Church Berkeley as a primary beneficiary (1 to 100 percent) of your retirement plan account.
  • Designating a specific amount to be paid to First Church Berkeley before the remainder is directed to family or other individuals.
  • Designating First Church Berkeley as a contingent or secondary beneficiary to receive the balance only if a loved one, such as a primary beneficiary, doesn’t survive you.

Life Insurance Beneficiary Designations
You can designate First Church Berkeley as a beneficiary of all or a portion of your life insurance benefits. A traditional life insurance policy (with an accumulated cash value) can be a valuable asset. If the original purpose for the protection no longer applies, such as to educate children now grown or to provide financial security for a spouse now deceased, a life insurance policy can be redirected to help support a charitable cause such as First Church Berkeley. To implement your wishes, please contact your life insurance agency or company and complete the needed change-of-beneficiary form. You may wish to contact an attorney to ensure you are using the correct language.

Life Income Gifts administered through United Church Funds (UCF)
Donors may wish to access planned gift opportunities that provide future financial resources for the ministry and mission of First Church Berkeley, while providing current income benefits to donors or their designees. These are called “life income gifts.” UCF is the leading provider of investment management and planned giving services for the United Church of Christ’s churches and ministries.  UCF’s life income giving opportunities can benefit any setting of the church: the local congregation, the Conference, national ministries of the church, or simply the UCC. Visit https://ucfunds.org/planned-giving/ to learn more about UCC’s Planned Giving Opportunities or download the brochure.

Charitable Gift Annuities
A gift annuity provides you a reliable income stream while you are alive, with the remaining principal going to the UCC beneficiary, such as First Church Berkeley, at your death. There is a $10,000 gift minimum.

Pooled Income Fund Gift
Your gift (assets such as cash or securities) is pooled with others into a large fund, net income of which is distributed to you based upon your share of the fund. The UCF Pooled Income Fund may appeal to individuals wishing to make a gift benefitting First Church Berkeley who have highly appreciated assets that produce low income, are comfortable with variable income, and/or are too young to receive an appealing gift annuity rate and don’t want to defer income payments. There is a $2,000 gift minimum.

Charitable Remainder Trust
With a Charitable Remainder Trust, you transfer cash, securities or other property into an irrevocable trust managed by the United Church Foundation, as trustee, and receive lifetime income. The trustee invests the assets and pays the designated life income beneficiary(ies) a fixed percentage of the trust’s current value. Upon the termination of the trust, the remaining principal is transferred to the UCC beneficiary(ies) designated by the donor when the trust was created. There is a $50,000 gift minimum. 

How much should I consider giving?

With the exception of the life income gift types discussed above, which have minimum gift amounts, there is no minimum amount for a legacy gift to First Church Berkeley. There are many ways to think about an amount, but one approach is to choose a sum that would, in effect, replace your current annual sustaining giving level in perpetuity. For example, assuming the church’s endowment will provide 5% of your legacy gift to First Church Berkeley each year, then a $40,000 gift would provide $2,000 each year to the church’s operations. In addition, over the long term, your legacy gift would grow along with the church’s endowment as the stock market rises and additional gifts are received.

Are there any restrictions on the types of gifts I can make?

It is preferred that legacy gifts to First Church Berkeley be made without designation or restriction as to the use of the funds. First Church Berkeley may not accept gifts that are overly restrictive. Gifts that are too restrictive would be those that violate the terms of the church’s Endowment Committee Enabling Resolution, gifts that are too difficult to administer, or gifts that are for purposes outside the mission of First Church Berkeley. The types of gifts that are acceptable include cash or checks, marketable securities, and marketable real estate. Please note that the Legacy Circle Form requests that you indicate whether your gift shall be unrestricted or restricted. All unrestricted gifts will be placed in the General (unrestricted) Endowment Fund. For restricted gifts, the funds will be used as designated as long as the need exists and the means are available to fulfill the wishes of the donor. In the future, when those needs no longer fit the mission of the church, the funds will be added to the General Endowment.  Undesignated bequests shall first be used to complete the donor’s current sustaining giving commitments and the remainder, if any, shall be added to the General Endowment Fund.  If you have questions about restrictions on the types of gifts, please contact the church Treasurer, Moe Wright, at [email protected].

How are planned gifts to the First Church Berkeley Legacy Circle managed?

The funds First Church Berkeley receives from the settlement of estates are added to the church’s General Endowment unless otherwise directed by the donor to one of the church’s Donor-Designated Endowments. The church’s endowment funds are managed by the Endowment and Investment Committees and a professional investment management firm. Investments are made in accordance with the church’s endowment and investment policies as contained in the Endowment Committee Enabling Resolution, and results are published annually in the church’s Annual Report. A portion of the General Endowment is provided each year to support the church’s annual operating budget and capital projects. This amount is generally 4-5% of the General Endowment. If you would like information on the church’s investment policies, current invested assets, or other historical information, please contact the church Treasurer, Moe Wright, at [email protected].

How do I make a Legacy Gift to First Church Berkeley?

  1. Talk with your advisors and family. Decide on the kind and amount of gift you want to leave to First Church Berkeley. Will you leave a set dollar amount or a percentage of certain assets? Do you want your gift to go to the church’s general endowment or a designated special endowment?
  2. Contact First Church Berkeley Business Manager Kit Dunbar or one of the ministers. Let us know what you are considering and whether you need assistance. While the church cannot offer financial or tax advice regarding your gift, we will be happy to answer your questions about the different gift types. We also want to be sure First Church Berkeley can accept your gift as you want to designate it. We may not be able to accept certain kinds of real property, or funds designated for a very narrow purpose. Of course, your information will be held in strict confidence, depending on your wishes.
  3. Execute your legacy gift by doing one or more of the following:
    1. Work with your attorney to add or change language in your will or revocable trust.
    2. Change your retirement plan and/or life insurance beneficiary forms.
    3. Contact the United Church Foundation at the UCC to establish your life income planned gift – call (877) 806-4989 or email to [email protected]
    4. Complete the Legacy Circle Form.
      1. Email the form to Kit Dunbar at [email protected]; or
      2. Send the form to Kit Dunbar, Business Manager, First Church Berkeley, 2330 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704. 
      3. Details on your legacy giving will be kept confidential and will be kept for the church’s record-keeping only. 
  4. We will welcome you as a member of the Legacy Circle! Determine whether or not you want your name to be listed with others, or kept confidential. Please note that the form includes a check-box to designate whether you are willing to have your name published as a member of the Legacy Circle in the church’s annual report. We recognize members by name only, and do not disclose the amount or nature of your gift. Please notify First Church Berkeley if you make future changes or adjustments to your legacy gift.
  5. Upon settlement of your estate, your funds will be given to First Church Berkeley according to your wishes , and will serve the needs and activities of First Church Berkeley for years to come!

Thank you…for your generosity and commitment to keeping First Church Berkeley strong and vital for generations to come!