May 6, 2021 – Conversion of Planned Gifts from Revocable to Irrevocable: Issues and Opportunities

May 6, 2021 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Sara Nash

Conversion of Planned Gifts from Revocable to Irrevocable: Issues and Opportunities

Phil Purcell

May 6, 2021

A significant percentage of planned gifts that are deferred are revocable. These revocable gifts include estate provisions in a will or trust as well as beneficiary designations of retirement plans, payment on death of bank or stock accounts and other techniques. This session will provide an overview of these techniques and their importance in the achievement of annual and campaign goals. At the same time, many organizations prioritize irrevocable deferred gifts for a number of reasons. First, irrevocable gifts offer enhanced likelihood of receipt. Further, these gifts may be displayed on financial statements. Some types qualify for federal income tax benefits. As a result, the potential of conversion of revocable to irrevocable gifts may be a helpful strategy to consider for selected donors. This session will explore aspects of converting revocable to irrevocable gifts primarily through the use of irrevocable testamentary pledges or contract to make a will. While prominently included in the category of irrevocable deferred gifts in the Guidelines for Reporting and Counting Charitable Gifts, this technique is often under-utilized.

Phil Purcell currently serves as the Director of Planned Giving for the Central Territory of the Salvation Army.  In this role, he is the directional leader of 30 planned giving officers in 11 states who close approximately $70 million in planned gifts each year.  Formerly, he served as Senior Counsel for Philanthropy on behalf of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students where he assisted approximately twenty major gift officers engaged in a $250 million multi-year campaign with a $100 million goal for planned giving.


Phil has served as Vice-President for Planned Giving and Endowment Stewardship at the Ball State University Foundation where he assisted with the successful completion of a $200 million campaign, of which $65 million in planned gifts was raised. He also was director of gift planning for the Central Indiana Community Foundation where he created and directed the Planned Giving Resource Center. Phil served as director of development and planned gifts for St. Vincent Hospital Foundation and director of planned gifts and development counsel for Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.


Phil is an attorney and member of the American and Indiana State Bar Associations.  He is Senior Consultant and the lead gift planning attorney for the Heaton Smith Group, a national charitable and estate planning consulting firm. Phil also serves as Editor for Planned Giving Today, a monthly national publication. He is lead legal advisor for the Community Foundation Legal Help Desk, a national online subscription service. He serves of counsel to the Indianapolis law firm, Fleming Stage.  Phil teaches courses on law and philanthropy, nonprofit organization law and planned giving as adjunct faculty for the Indiana University Maurer School of Law (Bloomington, IN) and Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy and The Fundraising School (Indianapolis, IN).  He serves on the faculty of the American Institute for Philanthropic Studies (Long Beach State University) for the Certified Specialist in Planned Giving program.


Phil serves as Vice Chair of the Legislation Committee of the American Bar Association’s Charitable Giving and Organizations Group and as a member of the Tax-Exempt Organization Advisory Council for the Internal Revenue Service (Great Lakes states).  He currently serves on the board of directors of the American Council on Gift Annuities. Phil formerly served on the board of directors for the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners (chair of Leadership Institute, past secretary), Charitable Gift Planning Group of Indiana (past president), Association of Fundraising Professionals – Indiana Chapter (past president), Central Indiana Land Trust, and Catch the Stars Foundation. He has written articles on charitable gift and estate planning which have appeared in Planned Giving Today, The Journal of Gift Planning, CASE Currents, Planned Giving Design Center and other publications. He is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE).


Phil has consulted on behalf of over 400 charitable organizations of all types. His consulting focuses on state and federal legal issues (e.g., bylaws, tax exemption applications), philanthropy (e.g., fundraising, gift agreements, policies/procedures, endowments, planned giving) and nonprofit governance (e.g., strategic planning, duties of boards of directors).  He has served as an expert witness in court cases and trials on topics related to the law of philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, endowments, scholarships, and related issues.


He has spoken on topics related to law, nonprofit governance and philanthropy before national, regional and local conferences. His presentations have qualified for continuing education credit for fundraisers, attorneys, accountants, financial planners, trust officers and life insurance professionals throughout the U.S. Phil received his B.A. degree from Wabash College (magna cum laude) and his J.D. and M.P.A. degrees (with honors) from Indiana University.  He received a Harry S. Truman scholarship is a member of the academic honorary societies Phi Beta Kappa and Pi Alpha Alpha.

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