How to Plan a Gift

How to Give

Planning a legacy is a highly personal endeavor. These are some examples of common planned giving vehicles, from simple to more complex. We suggest you consult your attorney or financial advisor to help you make the right decisions for your own circumstances and financial goals. 

Beneficiary Designation

A beneficiary designation is perhaps the easiest and most flexible form of legacy giving. Just name SJMA as a beneficiary to receive assets from your retirement plans such as IRAs and 401(k)s, insurance policies, and donor-advised funds. You can specify a specific dollar amount or a percentage of the value. 


A bequest is a gift made as part of a will or trust. When you name a nonprofit organization such as SJMA in your will or trust, you can specify a dollar amount, or a percentage of the overall value of your estate, or a specific asset. To make a gift to SJMA from your estate, you can add a short paragraph to your present will. If you are considering a bequest, please use this sample bequest language.

Charitable Trust

A charitable trust can reduce your estate's value through charitable donations, which helps lower estate taxes. Charitable trusts can also eliminate probate for your beneficiaries. These life-income gifts can allow you to create income for yourself and an inheritance for your beneficiaries during your lifetime using non-income-producing assets you already own. They offer tax benefits but are irrevocable. There are different types of charitable trusts, so you may wish to consult an estate advisor

Qualified Charitable Distribution (give from your IRA!)

A qualified charitable distribution (QCD) is a direct transfer of funds from your traditional IRA to a qualified nonprofit such as SJMA. If you are 70½ years old or older, you can reduce or eliminate taxes on your IRA by donating a portion of your required minimum distribution directly to SJMA, up to a total of $100,000 total annually.

What to Give

As you plan your legacy, here are some types of gifts to consider. Discuss with your trusted financial planning or tax advisor which of these options will benefit you the most.


Cash gifts are the simplest and easiest way to make a meaningful gift to SJMA. 

Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual Funds

Gifts of these appreciated securities are easy to make and may provide greater tax benefits than an equivalent gift in cash.

Retirement Assets

You can gift all or a percentage of what remains in your retirement plan to SJMA—a simple, tax-efficient way to fund your legacy. 

Plans and Policies

Life insurance gifts can allow you to support SJMA while realizing tax and income benefits at the same time.

Gifts of Art

A gift of art is another way to benefit yourself and SJMA. If you have works that you are considering donating to SJMA, find out more here. Please work with us in advance to ensure that the Museum can accept your gift.

Sample Bequest Language for Your Will or Trust

1. Name the San José Museum of Art as a beneficiary.

Provide the name San José Museum of Art and our tax identification number

I give to the San José Museum of Art (TAX ID# 23-7062028), located in San José, CA...

2. Identify what you wish to give to benefit the Museum. 

SJMA can accept cash, stocks, retirement funds, bank accounts and some forms of property and art. If you wish to leave SJMA a specific item of property or art, please work with us in advance to ensure we can accept your gift.

Select the statement that best fits your needs:

  • _____ percent of my estate 

  • The sum of $_______

  • My ______________ (list a specific asset)

  • The remainder of my estate

3. Include what you would like your gift to accomplish.

Your gift will support SJMA's general operations or will be applied as directed by the Board of Trustees unless you work with the Museum in advance to specify a specific program (exhibitions, education, endowment, or acquisitions).

Contingent and residual gift language

SJMA can be named as a contingent or residual beneficiary in your will or living trust if one or more of your specific bequests cannot be fulfilled:

If (insert name) should predecease me, I give the remainder of my estate (or a percentage or the sum of $______ ) to the San José Museum of Art (Tax ID# 23-7062028), located in San José, CA.

Retirement plan beneficiary language

Naming SJMA as the beneficiary of a qualified retirement plan asset such as a 401(k), 403(b), IRA, Keogh, or profit-sharing pension plan allows 100% of your hard-earned savings to avoid taxes and be put to its fullest use to continue the Museum’s mission––and is easy to do.

  1. Request a change-of-beneficiary form from your plan administrator.  
  2. List the San José Museum of Art as a non-profit organization beneficiary using the TAX ID# 23-7062028.

Other considerations

Every individual has unique needs and goals. Ask your legal, financial and/or tax professionals to advise you how to make a generous gift that is best for your specific situation. SJMA is not able to give you legal or tax advice.

Please contact Jennifer Sime, chief philanthropy officer, at or 408.271.6885. 

Please let us know about your plans so we can thank you and welcome you to the Founders' Society!

Reference Information



Planning an estate is a highly personal and technical endeavor and should be undertaken with professional counsel.