Personal Giving Stories

Four Strategies Complete the Perfect Gift Plan

Elaine (’63, ’65) and Allen Avner (’64)
Elaine (’63, ’65) and Allen Avner (’64)

After Allen Avner lost his wife Elaine in June of 2017, he realized he needed to tie up some loose ends regarding their estates. His first focus was establishing income sources for two family members to increase their financial security.

One of the gifts he made returns a 6% annuity to assist an elderly relative for the rest of her life. The other gift benefits a younger family member, so his lifetime income is deferred until retirement. This results in significantly higher income than if it had started immediately. After their lifetimes, what remains in their gift plans will go to the Richard Allen and Elaine S. Avner Library Endowment. “The ability to help these family members and then support our endowment is very gratifying,” Allen states.

Next up was to secure an estate gift to their endowment that will be made at Allen’s death. “The U of I Foundation provided some simple language that I gave to my attorney, and that was all it took,” says Allen.

The final piece of the puzzle was a sizable IRA inflating Allen’s income due to the required minimum distributions he was forced to take. “This was income I didn’t need; so I transferred the entire account over two years, and this reduced my taxes by almost $60,000,” he recounts. The IRAs and a couple of other accounts he wanted to clear out in order to simplify his estate were sufficient to fund a new professorship related to the couple’s background in academic research.

Elaine and Allen were pioneers in the early 1960s working with PLATO—the world’s first interactive, computer-assisted, online learning system. During this time, they observed the benefits of cross-fertilization of instructional and research techniques that resulted from interactions between PLATO users from different fields. The Avner Endowed Professorship in Interdisciplinary Research is intended to build on that experience with funding for a faculty member focused on the study of ways to increase interdisciplinary communication of exportable research techniques.


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