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Consider a Retirement Plan Gift

A retirement plan gift can be a tax-efficient and simple way of including the university in your estate plan.

Giving from your retirement plan as part of your estate plan

Most distributions from retirement plans (other than Roth IRAs) are subject to income taxes—and possibly estate taxes—if left to an individual; however, a charity that is named as the beneficiary does not pay income or estate taxes on the distribution due to its tax-exempt status. Therefore, if you name Stanford as a beneficiary of your retirement plan, the full value of what will be distributed to the university can be used to support the purpose that you designate.

You can name Stanford as a beneficiary of your retirement plan on the beneficiary designation form provided by your retirement plan administrator. That form usually asks for the name of the beneficiary (The Board of Trustees of The Leland Stanford Junior University), its address (326 Galvez Street, Stanford, CA), and a tax identification number (94-1156365). This will provide an unrestricted gift to Stanford. If you would like to direct your future gift to a specific purpose, please contact the Office of Planned Giving for appropriate documentation.

IRA qualified charitable distribution (QCD)

You may also be able to make a gift to charity and take advantage of tax savings with a “qualified charitable distribution” or “IRA charitable rollover” from your Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Under Section 408(d) of the Internal Revenue Code, Americans over the age of 70 ½ may distribute an amount, not to exceed $105,000 in a calendar year, from an IRA to Stanford or other public charities, tax-free. The annual limit will be adjusted annually for inflation. The amount of the allowable QCD distributions will be reduced by any deductible contributions made to an IRA on or after you reach 70 ½.

If an IRA owner directs the IRA plan administrator to distribute an amount, not to exceed $105,000 in 2024, to a public charity, the distribution counts toward the owner’s required minimum distribution (RMD), but is not included in the IRA owner’s income for income tax purposes. Although the IRA owner is not entitled to a charitable deduction for the distribution, the distribution benefits charity and does not count as income to the owner.

New Law Expands IRA QCD Opportunities

Beginning in 2023, the Secure Act 2.0 expanded the definition of QCDs to include a one-time distribution of up to $50,000 to fund a charitable gift annuity (please click on the link for further information on charitable gift annuities) or a charitable remainder trust (depending on the charities’ minimums for these types of gifts). The annual limit is adjusted annually for inflation and is now $53,000 in 2024. This election is available only once during the IRA owner’s lifetime and comes with special rules, so please contact the Office of Planned Giving to determine if this opportunity is right for you.  

How an outright gift of a QCD works:

You must be 70 ½ or older at the time of distribution.

You may distribute an amount, not to exceed $100,000 (subject to adjustment beginning in 2024) in a calendar year, to one or more public charities, so long as it is completed by December 31 of the year in which you intend to make the charitable distribution. The amount of the distribution will be reduced by any deductible contributions made to an IRA on or after you reach 70 ½.

Your IRA administrator must make the distribution directly to the charity, or you may write a check payable to the charity from your IRA checkbook (special rules apply when a check is written from an IRA checkbook, please contact the Office of Planned Giving for more information). A sample letter of instruction to your IRA administrator requesting a distribution to Stanford is provided below.

If you make a gift to Stanford from your IRA, please include written instructions on how you would like to designate your gift. You can also call (866) 543-0243 or (650) 724-0627, or  email with your gift designation.

Certain restrictions and requirements* must be followed when making this type of gift. If you have questions, please call the Office of Planned Giving at (650) 725-4358 or (800) 227-8977, ext. 54358, or email Before proceeding, you should also consult with your tax advisor to discuss your particular situation including any impact of your state’s tax laws.

* For example, the following transfers will not qualify: distributions to private foundations, to donor advised funds, and for any purpose that entitles you to receive a benefit, such as preferred seating at athletic events or tickets to a dinner.

Gifts may be sent to:

Stanford University
P.O. Box 20466
Stanford, CA 94309-0466

Stanford University’s federal tax identification number is 94-1156365.