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For many people, a combination of gift techniques help meet philanthropic, family, and financial objectives. The Charitable Lead Trust and Retained Life Estate offer benefits that work well on their own, but also can be coupled with a life income plan to create an individualized gift package that meets all needs.

Charitable Lead Trust

Charitable lead trust graph

Planning Tip:
Current Low Interest Rates Make for an Ideal Time for the Charitable Lead Trust!

With a lead trust, you transfer assets to a trustee, such as Harvard. The trustee pays an annual sum to Harvard Law School for a specific term of years, usually 10-25. The assets of the trust can be invested and managed by Harvard. When the trust terminates, the principal plus any appreciation is transferred to your beneficiaries, typically, but not limited to, children or grandchildren.

You qualify for a charitable gift tax deduction equal to the estimated present value of the annual trust payments to the Law School. Moreover, any appreciation in the assets during the term of the trust is not subject to additional tax. As a result, you are often able to pass on to your heirs a larger estate after tax than otherwise would be possible.

Lead trusts managed by Harvard can be established with gifts of $1 million or greater. If you establish a Harvard-managed Charitable Lead Trust with a gift of $2 million or more, you can name non-Harvard charities as income beneficiaries for up to 50 percent of the income.

To request a personal gift illustration, please contact Harvard Law School’s Planned Giving staff at 617-384-9932 or

Retained Life Estate

Retained life estate graph

You can give a personal residence to Harvard Law School, take an immediate income tax charitable deduction for a portion of the appraised value, and continue to live in your home for life. You remain responsible for all taxes and upkeep. At the end of the life estate, Harvard would sell the property and use the proceeds to benefit Harvard Law School. If at any time during the life estate, you decide you no longer want to own the property, you can either give your remaining income to HLS and receive an additional charitable deduction, or you and the Law School can jointly sell your interests to a third party.