The quarterly donor newsletter of The Morton Arboretum

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A Legacy that Lasts

When industrialist Joy Morton set out to transform his country estate into an arboretum for the study of trees in 1922, he knew that it would need philanthropic support for many years to come. He planned for the future of The Morton Arboretum by leaving a substantial portion of his fortune to the Arboretum in his will.

Since then, many other donors, including Morton’s children and grandchildren, have also left legacies to the Arboretum. Their well-planned generosity has outlived them and made it possible for this great institution to grow and expand its mission to work for trees and people into its second century.

“A planned gift is like planting a tree,” said Jessica Anderson, major and planned giving officer. “You may not see it grow, but you know that someone in a future generation will be able to enjoy it. You are leaving a legacy that lasts.”

Donors who let the Arboretum know they plan to make such a gift are honored with membership in the 1922 Legacy Society (formerly the Arborvitae Society). Donors who let the Arboretum know they plan to make such a gift are honored with membership in the 1922 Legacy Society (formerly the Arborvitae Society), and are invited to exclusive events and programs. More importantly, the society is a way for the Arboretum to show planned-giving donors that their thoughtfulness and generosity are appreciated.

“What I enjoy most is being able to thank people during their lifetimes,” Anderson said. When unexpected bequests are received, she said, “I wish we had been given a chance to say ‘thank you’ to that donor, to express the real difference that gift can make.”

The Arboretum’s staff can help determine the best way to carry out a donor’s intention to leave a legacy. “Everyone’s situation is different,” she said.

A bequest in a will, either for a specific amount or for a percentage of the estate, is one possibility, but there are many others. For example, some families find they can save on estate taxes by making a nonprofit such as the Arboretum a beneficiary to a retirement account.

It’s also possible to set up an annuity that will provide guaranteed lifetime income to the individual, with the remainder transferring to the Arboretum. Planned gifts can be anonymous if the donor chooses.

“The members of the 1922 Legacy Society are thinking the same way as Joy Morton,” Anderson said. “They love this beautiful place. They recognize the importance of science and conservation. They want to help the Arboretum make an impact on the world for generations to come.”

To discuss the possibility of including the Arboretum in your estate plans, please contact Anderson at or 630-725-2146.