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Legacy, Impact Motivate Family Giving

Michael and Mairead Smialek

Michael and Mairead Smialek

Michael and Mairead Smialek met in Troy while he was a student at Rensselaer and she attended Russell Sage.

"We feel incredibly lucky that we were able to meet," Mairead says. "We have a tremendous circle of friends, and we both feel our college experiences helped us become pretty successful. We want to give back because we have this great life."

Today, the Smialeks have been married for more than 23 years. They've given regularly to both schools after Mairead was inspired by another donor.

"I started thinking, ‘Wow, education has changed our lives, and we should just start donating every month to both schools,'" Mairead says. "It's kind of contagious."

Their Legacy

Also contagious in the Smialek family was a love of Troy—and Rensselaer. Daughter Fiona is a sophomore there. Michael says his daughter chose RPI because she liked the atmosphere and her parents' stories.

Michael earned a bachelor's ('90) and a master's ('92) in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer and is currently a principal cloud architect for Amazon.

"You're happy when your kid is happy, and she's happy there. We love it because we get to go back," says Mairead, who is student services coordinator at Resurrection University.

The Smialeks' donations are dedicated toward scholarships because a scholarship helped Michael's dad with his education.

"We've all benefited from his father's success," Mairead says. "That's all because someone somewhere provided the financial support that enabled his father to complete his degrees."

The couple also planned a legacy gift to Rensselaer through their estate. They chose Rensselaer because the Institute shaped Michael's career and provided knowledge he still uses today. They also trust Rensselaer to use their gift wisely, Michael says.

"I think it's just about legacy and leaving an impact," Mairead says. "It's just a continuation of something we do every month."

Leave a Legacy at RPI

There are many ways to leave a lasting legacy at Rensselaer. Contact Art Tracy '92 MS today at 518-276-2561 or to discuss your options.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 110 8th St., Troy, NY 12180-3590, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Rensselaer or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Rensselaer as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Rensselaer as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Rensselaer where you agree to make a gift to Rensselaer and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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