Emens Family Finds a Charitable Remainder Unitrust is the Perfect, Tax-Saving Way to Increase Family Scholarship

He visits the Ball State University campus for many reasons during the year, but Columbus, Ohio, attorney J. Richard Emens especially looks forward to two events that both honor exceptional students and celebrate the memory of his parents, who gave so much to this university.

The John R. and Aline B. Emens Scholars program was established to honor Emens' parents, the DickEmensformer Ball State president and his wife, who made a strong commitment to recognize student leadership and develop student potential. The Emens Scholars Awards Dinner is held every fall, inviting those who have been awarded this prestigious scholarship. A follow-up luncheon is held during spring semester.

The purpose of the Emens Scholars program is to attract outstanding high school student leaders to Ball State and encourage recipients to continue to develop their leadership skills while on campus. The scholarships were first awarded in 1977, shortly after President Emens died in 1976. More than 150 students have been recipients of this scholarship since the program was created.

"It's so energizing to visit with the Emens Scholars students at the start of their first school year and then see how they progress during their four years on campus." said Emens, who joined the Ball State University Foundation Board of Directors in 2001 and will serve as chairman beginning winter 2008.

Emens, a partner at the law firm Chester Willcox & Saxbe, has made contributions to the Emens Scholars fund through a charitable remainder unitrust, a type of trust that pays one or more beneficiaries income for life with the balance going to benefit Ball State. Emens said he was attracted to the numerous benefits this planned gift offers and the ease in setting up the gift agreement through the foundation.

He has elected to contribute the annual income normally received by the beneficiaries back into the trust to increase the fund and generate a greater principal for the Emens Scholars program. "Adding funds to the trust, which will eventually go to the scholarship, is my way of paying tribute to my parents who contributed 46 combined years of service to the university," he said.

John Emens served as president of Ball State from 1945 to 1968, a period when the campus grew phenomenally and the institution's name was appropriately changed from Ball State Teachers College to Ball State University. His father and mother were recipients of Ball State Alumni Association's Benny Award for extraordinary service to the university.

Emens said he and his wife, Beatrice Wolper Emens, who is also a partner at the Chester Willcox & Saxbe law firm, like the flexibility this gift plan offers. "Our charitable remainder unitrust provides a way to give back," he said. "We can reinvest the income to increase the principal or we can choose to keep it. If we retire,  the income will be there if we need it."

Still another advantage is the tax savings that goes along with the charitable remainder unitrust, which Emens initially funded with appreciated securities. An immediate federal income tax deduction, elimination of capital gains tax, and reduction of estate and gift taxes are all benefits of this type of planned gift. Emens also receives an annual income tax charitable deduction every year he contributes the income back into the trust.

Emens also found it very simple to set up this gift. "People think it's complicated, but it's really very easy to do when you're working with foundation staff members, who provided all the documentation and answered all of my questions right away—not days later," he said, adding that it's comforting to consult with staff members who really know estate planning law.

A member of Ball State's Quadrangle, Fellows, and Beneficence gift societies, Emens believes anyone who cares about the university and the great things that are going on should give back in any way they can.

"Creating a charitable remainder unitrust has provided a wonderful way for me honor my parents, support Ball State and future students, and provide income and tax relief for my family and me," he said.

Emens practices law in the areas of corporate law, oil, and gas law, governmental relations, and family business and succession planning. In addition to serving on the foundation board, he has been a board chair of numerous nonprofit organizations, including Audubon Ohio, Energy and Mineral Law Foundation, Franklin University, and Friends of the Libraries of The Ohio State University. He and his wife have six children and coauthored a book, Family Business Basics: The Guide to Family Business Financial Success.

Learn more about charitable remainder trusts.