Ron and Marla Franklin

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A backyard conversation with their neighbor and attorney was all it took for Des Moines-area residents Ron and Marla Franklin to finally sit down and work on their estate plans.

"We were at an age where we needed a will," says Marla, who is retired from her position as vice president for human resources at Allied Insurance. "We had no kids and didn't want to spend a lot of money on a will. Our neighbor at the time said he would help us, so we took a six pack to the deck, and in the space of a couple of hours, we got it wrapped up."

The Iowa State University graduates realize that their estate planning was made easier because of their personal situation. "Our neighbor led us through the process," says Ron, who retired as a managing director for the Principal Financial Group. "Basically, he was picking our brains to learn what was important to us. He kept asking the question, ‘What do you want to do with your assets that will make you feel good?'"

Establishing a bequest in a will and naming the Iowa State University Foundation as the beneficiary is the easiest and most popular deferred gift plan used by Iowa State alumni and friends. Donors may name the ISU Foundation as a beneficiary of a percentage of their estate, a specific dollar amount or specific assets, or as a residual or contingent recipient. "I was surprised how easy it was, and we're very pleased with the end product," Ron says.

Iowa State jumped to the forefront of what is important to Ron and Marla.

Ron graduated in 1968 from Iowa State with a degree in industrial administration.

Marla also graduated that year, with a degree in economics.

After taking care of the "absolute needs" in their estate plans, the Franklins turned their attention to what they wanted to do with the rest of their assets. The couple looked at a number of charitable organizations they had supported in the past, including Iowa State. Most of their previous gifts to the university had been directed to Cyclone Athletics as well as their respective academic programs.

"We both received scholarships to attend Iowa State," Ron says. "Without that assistance it would have been a lot tougher going to school. Iowa State is involved in numerous worthwhile projects. It was important to us to continue to support the university so even more can be done."

"We were fortunate to gain some advantages that an Iowa State degree gives people," Marla says. "It just seemed appropriate to give back to that legacy. It's something we both feel good about."

Marla says the decision to leave a bequest to Iowa State was an easy one. "The university did the best job of staying in touch with us and informing us of what was happening.

"That really raised Iowa State in my consciousness and showed that they put the funds, regardless if the gifts were $25 or $25 million, to good use."

Currently the couple has not designated a university fund or funds for their bequest. "We decided to make this gift unrestricted with the thought we should put the funds in the hands of the individuals who know where the best use of the money would be — where it can have the maximum impact," Marla said.