An Ode to Her Parents: Helen Symons ‘65

Helen Symons smiling

Helen Symons '65

By leaving UMass Amherst a parcel of Nantucket land, longtime nurse Helen Symons '65 honors her parents and the profession that allowed her to travel the globe.

In one of her first experiences as a nurse, Helen, always the thrillseeker, remembers ripping through the amazing, muddy midst of the Woodstock music festival on the back of a motorcycle. She traveled to the legendary 1969 festival to volunteer in one of the improvised emergency medicine stations-and she had a blast.

At the start of her career, she worked in a teaching hospital in Holland. She was a nurse at Massachusetts Mental Health Center and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston; at hospitals in California and Virginia; and at a wellness center in India. She also worked for a homeopathic doctor in London whose clients included Sting, Tina Turner and George Harrison.

Currently she is a nurse at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.

An Ode to Her Parents
In the '70s, Helen bought land in Nantucket. She didn't get around to putting up the cottage she'd hoped to build someday, but over time, the property significantly appreciated. When she recently decided to subdivide it and sell three of the four lots, her accountant recommended a charitable giving arrangement to offset the tax liabilities.

After years of wanting to make a significant contribution to UMass Amherst, Helen was finally able to do so by donating real estate to a charitable remainder unitrust.

The unitrust provides her with lifetime income. After her death, the principal goes to UMass Amherst to endow the Victor E. and Elizabeth Tower Symons Nursing Scholarship, named in honor of her parents. Helen's father died when she was young, and her mother worked hard as a secretary to support her only child.

"She never took a sick day, not even when she was really sick," Helen says. "It gives me great pleasure to honor my parents with this scholarship and to do something for the profession I've enjoyed."

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the University of Massachusetts Amherst 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 designate _________________ to the University of Massachusetts Amherst at Memorial Hall, 134 Hicks Way, Amherst, MA 01003-9270. I request this gift be used for __________________ (for instance, a specific department, college, school or program, a scholarship, or for general purposes of the campus)."

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 UMass Amherst 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 UMass Amherst 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 UMass Amherst 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 UMass Amherst where you agree to make a gift to UMass Amherst 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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