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Lives of Service Influence Law Gift From Isabel M. Garcia 99L

Isabel M. Garcia

Isabel M. Garcia 99L made a planned gift honoring her roots and mentors.

Service comes naturally to Isabel M. Garcia 99L, who recognized Emory two decades ago as a place where her desire to serve would matter in the long run. Her planned gift—designating Emory School of Law among her life insurance beneficiaries—reflects family roots in the military and the influence of mentors including Paul McLarty 63C 66L.

“My husband and I believe in philanthropy,” says Garcia. “We have an ability to have a good life, and from that, we want there to be good for others. Because he is active duty military, we designated a portion of our life insurance to a beneficiary outside our family. It was important for us to do that now in our 40s, and there was no question that we would choose Emory Law to receive this gift.”

Two decades ago, as she prepared to graduate from University of Florida and enter law school, Garcia fell in love with the beautiful images of campus showcased on Emory’s promotional materials. Her father mentioned that Emory used Army barracks to house veterans who enrolled by the hundreds after World War II. By fall 1947, half of Emory’s 3,583 students were veterans. That history made Emory feel welcoming.  

Garcia describes herself as an Air Force brat who moved every few years. Being “the new kid” so frequently made her stronger and more extroverted. Her husband is a Navy commander who has served multiple tours in the Middle East and Afghanistan.  

“In 15 years, the longest we have been under one roof together was four weeks in 2009, and we’ve probably been physically together in the same place about 18 to 20 months total,” says Garcia, who is raising their two young sons almost singlehandedly. “One year, we couldn’t even Skype or email him. Any time our servicemen and women are operating in combat zones, it’s incredibly difficult for those family members left behind. The feelings of disconnection, worry and loneliness can sometimes be overwhelming.”

At Emory Law, Garcia bonded with an alumni network that became a family for her. She landed her first job with a commercial real estate firm—McLarty, Robinson & Van Voorhies, LLP—where senior partner Paul McLarty became her mentor. “Paul and his wife Ruth are my fairy godparents,” she says. “They spend Thanksgiving with me every year, and that is a very special bond for me.”

A decade after Garcia graduated, McLarty retired from the firm and she took over his practice. Today she is a founding partner of the Piedmont Law Group, a boutique law firm in Atlanta specializing in commercial real estate.

Garcia also followed McLarty’s lead as an enthusiastic ambassador for Emory. A tireless volunteer with the Emory Alumni Association, Garcia served an eight-year term with the Emory Alumni Board, including one year as president. “Probably the best years of my life,” she says. “I loved it, because I felt so connected to something outside my family.”

In 2017, Emory recognized Garcia with the 2017 J. Pollard Turman Alumni Service Award.  

“There have been very few alumni volunteer leaders as dedicated and as productive as Isabel,” says Cecily Craighill, former director of alumni relations with Emory School of Law. “Isabel’s modesty, quiet, calm and lively good humor were greatly appreciated, as was her willingness to be the face and voice of the Emory Alumni Board.”

In addition to practicing law, Garcia has been on the faculty of continuing legal education seminars and served on the Executive Committee for the Real Property Law Section and the Executive Committee of Military and Veterans Law Section of the Georgia Bar Association.

“Serving others has been ingrained in me throughout my life,” she says. “I’ve had tremendous role models who have taught me the importance of service. Paul deserves a lot of credit because he encouraged my engagement with Emory. Through him I saw the amazing things happening here, and if not for him, I would not have been so involved. He inspired me, and I want to make him proud.”

Emory has offered diverse ways for Garcia to remain involved. Today she mentors eight first-generation Emory undergraduates who are part of the 1915 Scholars Program. This means a lot to her because education is so important to her. Her family tree of educated women includes Mary Lyon, founder of Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.

Emory’s Office of Gift Planning supported Garcia as she completed her planned gift, which will benefit scholarships for law students and the Emory Law Volunteer Clinic for Veterans. She also aspires to endow a scholarship at Emory Law for a veteran or the child of a veteran.

“I know it will do good there,” she says of her planned gift for Emory Law. “The programs are stronger, and the quality of students is higher than when I went to Emory. That makes me look good, frankly. I want Emory to know that I support it and that I am proud of my degree.”

Making your legacy gift to Emory is easier than you think. Contact Emory Office of Gift Planning at 404.727.8875 or giftplanning@emory.edu. For online resources, go to giftplanning.emory.edu.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Emory University 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 Emory University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at Atlanta, GA, 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 Emory 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 Emory 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 Emory 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 Emory where you agree to make a gift to Emory 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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