Support the Zoo

Retirement Plan Gifts


Make a gift from a retirement plan

Your retirement plan is the most tax-burdened asset you own.  If you choose to leave it to the Zoo, you can leave more money to your family.  The balance of your retirement plan may be worth more when you donate it to the Zoo than to your heirs.

If the largest asset in your estate is your retirement plan, such as a 401(k), IRA, or Keogh, you may be surprised to learn that the IRS will impose income tax on the remaining balance in the account if you designate it to a beneficiary other than your spouse.

This tax is in addition to the estate tax that may be imposed on the account.  For estates fully subject to the estate tax, the result can be that up to 70 percent of the value of your retirement plan will be consumed in taxes before your child, relative, or friend receives it, leaving them only 30 cents on the dollar you worked so hard to earn.

A gift from your retirement account is for you if:

  • You hold a 401(k), IRA, or other retirement plan.
  • You prefer to make a gift to the Zoo through your estate plan.
  • You want to balance your giving between providing for your family and for the Zoo.
  • You want to ensure the most efficient distribution of the assets in your estate.

How it works

  • You name The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore as the beneficiary of all or a portion of your IRA, 401(k) or other qualified plan.
  • You can designate the Zoo to receive all or a portion of the balance of your plan through your plan administrator.  Simply contact your IRA or retirement plan administrator and request a Change of Beneficiary Form, fill it out naming The Maryland Zoo as the beneficiary of all or a portion of your retirement plan, and submit it.
  • All or a portion of the balance of your plan will pass to The Maryland Zoo after your lifetime.


  • You will avoid the double taxation your retirement savings would face if you designated your heirs as beneficiaries.
  • You can continue to take regular lifetime withdrawals.
  • You can always decide to revoke the Zoo as a beneficiary if your family’s needs change.


Contact us privately at or call 443.552.5290 to learn more.  We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.

Please recognize that The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is not in the business of giving tax advice.  Please consult your legal counsel when considering these types of gifts, and please see our full disclaimer by clicking here.