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Life Insurance

A gift of life insurance that you no longer need can be an easy way for you to provide generous support to Amherst College.

A gift of life insurance could be right for you if:

  • Your life insurance policy is paid up or has substantial cash value.
  • You have no loan outstanding against the policy.
  • Your family is well-provided for by other means.
  • You would like to make a gift to Amherst.

How it works

Option 1:  You give your policy to Amherst.

As the policy owner, Amherst will either cash in your policy and use the proceeds, or maintain the policy until it ends and then receive its face amount. This gives you the satisfaction of making a generous gift to Amherst while having the benefit of no change in your cash flow and saving taxes.

Option 2:  You designate Amherst College as a beneficiary of your policy.

When your policy ends, Amherst will receive some or all of your policy's death benefit, as you have designated. This also gives you the satisfaction of making a generous gift to Amherst while having the benefit of no change in your cash flow and saving taxes. You also retain the ability to change your mind should circumstances in your life change. 

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Your life insurance may have a new purpose to serve
You may have purchased a life insurance policy years ago when you wanted to protect your family from financial hardship in the unlikely case of untimely circumstances. Now that your children are grown and independent, your mortgage is paid off, and you have accumulated sufficient assets in your estate to pass on to your family, you may no longer need your life insurance policy for its financial protection.

If this is your situation, consider making a gift of your life insurance policy to Amherst College. The value of your policy can provide generous support to our mission at no out-of-pocket cost to you.

Give a paid-up life insurance policy
A paid-up life insurance policy is a policy that will stay in force without any additional premium payments. A paid-up life insurance policy is a valuable asset and makes an excellent gift. 

When you give your paid-up insurance policy to the College, Amherst will either cash in the policy immediately and use the proceeds, or maintain the policy until maturity and receive the death benefit of the policy.

Because your gift is irrevocable, you will receive an income tax charitable deduction for the value of your gift at the time you transfer your policy to us. You will also remove your insurance from your estate, potentially saving estate taxes, as well.

In order to make your gift, you must assign Amherst all ownership rights to your policy and make Amherst the irrevocable designated beneficiary of the policy. Usually this can be accomplished by completing a simple form from your insurance provider. Be sure to identify the College as: Trustees of Amherst College.

Make Amherst a designated beneficiary of your policy
Another great way to make a gift to us with your life insurance policy is to make Amherst a designated beneficiary of your policy. When your insurance reaches maturity, we will receive the amount or proportion you designate. You can change your designation at any time, giving you the flexibility to revise your gift for any reason.

Because your gift is revocable, you do not receive an income tax deduction at the time you create the designation. Rather, your estate will receive an estate tax deduction for the amount your insurance policy distributes to us.

It is very easy to make Amherst a designated beneficiary of your life insurance policy. Simply contact your insurance agent to make a change on your policy's designation form. Be sure to identify us as: Trustees of Amherst College.  

If you plan to designate Amherst as a revocable beneficiary of your policy, the existence of an unpaid loan against your policy will not affect your tax picture.

A few states will not allow you to give life insurance to a charity
For your gift of life insurance to be valid, your state of residence must consider a charity to have an "insurable interest" in your policy. Most states do, but verify that this is true in your state before you make your gift. 


Justine bought a $250,000 life insurance policy on her own life shortly after the birth of the first of her four children. Her policy has been paid-up for years and her children, who are now in their 40s and 50s, no longer need the financial protection the policy provides. The cash value of her policy is now over $90,000, and she's paid $75,000 in premiums.

Justine has enjoyed a relationship of many years with Amherst, and would like to honor their relationship with a significant gift. However, she has been reluctant to use her liquid assets to make the gift. When Justine learns that her policy can be put to a new and productive use, she is delighted. She arranges with her insurance agent to donate her policy.


  • Justine will be able to deduct $75,000 from her income taxes (the lesser of the premiums paid or the cash surrender value).
  • Her $250,000 death benefit will not be included in her estate.
  • She has the satisfaction of making a generous gift to Amherst College without reducing her income level.
  • As the policy owner, Amherst can either cash in the policy and have over $90,000 to work with immediately, or hold the policy and receive $250,000 as a legacy gift from Justine.