Good Advice



“If we could share any advice regarding the planned giving process, that advice would be ‘start now and don’t delay!’” said Dr. Charles Votaw and Dr. May Votaw. Dr. Charles Votaw served as Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the ETSU Quillen College of Medicine from 1977 until his retirement in 1997. Dr. May Votaw had many years of distinguished service, too, for the College of Medicine (COM) as the Chief of the Oncology Division for Internal Medicine from 1978 until her retirement in 1996.

Reflecting recently on their years of service and their desire to benefit the COM through the ETSU Foundation, the Votaws recounted the importance the planned giving process has had in their lives. “We knew that we wanted to make a gift to benefit future medical students. For us, that was the starting point. By starting there in the process, we feel that it is easier to stay focused on making the gift. After that, the question then was ‘What asset or assets should we use to make that gift in our estate and tax planning?’” said Dr. May Votaw.

The Votaws’ gift was to endow a scholarship for future medical students in memory of Dr. Charles Votaw’s mother, Bertha Votaw. “We want to perpetuate Bertha Votaw’s legacy,” stated Dr. May Votaw. “She made it possible for Chuck and me to attend medical school through her sacrifice. She worked at a foundry in World War II and continued to work after the war so that Chuck and I could become physicians.” Charles remembered that “my mother worked on the foundry floor, setting production schedules for the ‘Perfect Circle Piston Rings.’ By establishing the Bertha Votaw endowment, we are thanking my mother and enabling her spirit of service and sacrifice to live forever through future physicians at the medical school. I remember well the early days of the College of Medicine, and the struggles we encountered. We lost promising students in the past simply because we did not have student scholarships to attract and help those students. We need endowed sholarships to help our students.”

Turning to that question of “which assets to use to make a planned gift,” the Votaws decided to make the ETSU Foundation the beneficiary of an IRA. “This seemed to make the most sense for us as we discovered that leaving an IRA to children and family could have some surprising negative income and estate tax consequences. By leaving the IRA to the ETSU Foundation, we are able to achieve our primary goal of making a gift in memory of my mother: helping medical students, while also assisting us with our tax and estate planning,” said Charles.

As physicians are certainly asked to share helpful advice, May offered some words to those considering a planned gift to the ETSU Foundation. “Don’t wait too long to start the process. It can be a long process to determine exactly what you want to do and how best to make that gift. In our case, we used our CPA/attorney, our stockbroker/financial consultant, and ETSU Advancement all working together with us this past one and one-half years. We have a good plan in place now that does exactly what we set out to do: to endow the Bertha Votaw Medical Student Scholarship.”

Thank you, Dr. Charles Votaw and Dr. May Votaw, for sharing your insights into the planned giving process and for your generous planned gift to remember the legacy of Bertha Votaw. Her spirit of sacrifice and giving to others will live forever in the lives and careers of our medical students by virtue of your planned gift.

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