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Gift Planning

'I Will': Brett Ballard

Blair, Lynn and Brett Ballard always visited the Plaza each year, including Mother's Day 2006.

Blair, Lynn and Brett Ballard always visited the Plaza each year, including Mother's Day 2006.

Adversity is no match for the heart and will of a generous young adventurer.

Brett Ballard was always a planner, always putting family first. The first words he said to his mom, Lynn, after the car accident that took his father's life and left him paralyzed from the waist down at age 7 were, "How are we going to live?"

As he fought to heal and regain his strength at Children's Mercy, Brett already decided how he was going to live: fearlessly.

"Nothing ever held him back," says Lynn. "He would go up escalators and down stairs in his wheelchair – he was a daredevil."

Brett continued to live life with remarkable passion and zeal until his unexpected passing at the young age of 27. But even in death, he continues to inspire through his incredible life story … and his philanthropic spirit.

Very privately, which was Brett's way, he made plans to include Children's Mercy in his will. True to his independent nature, he wanted to be in control of his finances. But most of all, he wanted to make sure his family and those organizations he cared about most were provided for.

"We were surprised and very proud when we learned about the bequest Brett left to Children's Mercy," shares Lynn. "After the care Brett received at Children's Mercy as a child, we never received a bill. Brett's gift will help other families going through the same experience we had."

Seven-year-old Brett Ballard proudly wore his Life Flight cap and pin while at Children's Mercy.

Seven-year-old Brett Ballard proudly wore his Life Flight cap and pin while at Children's Mercy.

Brett wasn't a millionaire, and his bequest included other organizations in addition to caring for his mother and sister, Blair (a redhead just like her big brother). But his thoughtful planning underscores that a legacy of any amount makes a meaningful difference.

Both Lynn and Blair hope Brett's gift inspires others to plan for the future and appreciate that every act of generosity has a "ripple effect."

"So many people who knew Brett – and lots of people who never met him but knew his story – continue to be inspired by him," says Blair. "I'm sure when people hear of his gift to Children's Mercy, he'll inspire others to pay it forward and do the same thing."

As a young boy, Brett adopted the motto: "I will." With grit and determination, he achieved more in 27 years than many people do in a lifetime.

After graduating from Avila University with a Bachelors degree in Business, he completed his MBA at Rockhurst University. An avid traveler, he toured Europe, parasailed in Hawaii, and took his sister scuba diving in Mexico. He was a regular on the shooting range and trained his beloved Doberman Pinscher, Recon, to respond to commands in German.

Brett will live on in the hearts of his family … and through the legacy of care his generous gift will provide.

Brett passed away on January 25, 2011. Our thoughts are with Lynn, Blair and Brett's entire family as they continue to celebrate his life. We are very grateful to both Lynn and Blair for sharing Brett's story. — Ed.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Children's Mercy 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 Children's Mercy, a nonprofit corporation currently located at Kansas City, MO, 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 Children's Mercy 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 Children's Mercy 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 Children's Mercy 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 Children's Mercy where you agree to make a gift to Children's Mercy 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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