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Claire Theobald

Claire's Legacy: A Survivor's Gift

Claire Theobald

Claire Theobald

The first thought I had when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and four different tumors was, “Will I live to see my children graduate middle school?”

It was late 2012, and I was a single mother of 11-year-old twins in New York City. I was also running my own small business, which was just taking off when I learned I had cancer.

I soon learned that the doctors at my first hospital had failed to detect the cancer, despite months of regular checkups and screenings.

I was devastated, angry—and scared. It was the lowest point of my life—I just sat at home and watched TV. I went through five seasons of Breaking Bad with my dog that winter.

But my worries diminished immediately after my first consultation at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

The doctors, nurses, and staff didn’t waste a moment planning my treatment. And when we discovered I was allergic to one of my chemotherapy drugs, my doctors had three back-up plans ready, because MSK has all the research and clinical trials right there.

It just was so clear to me that I was in the place with the best research and the best cancer care.

My treatment was hard, but at MSK I never felt alone. My team stayed on top of every detail through chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. I was awed by their expertise—and their warmth and kindness.

Today, I am cancer-free and busy touring colleges with my twins. My son, Alex, is introspective, with a passion for history and Mandarin. My daughter Juliane is expressive, with a talent for poetry and art.

I also bought a house in the city of my dreams: Charleston, South Carolina. It’s such a wonderful, vibrant place; I plan to move there permanently once the kids are out of the house.

I have new plans for my company, too. Beatrix New York, which produces cute backpacks for children, will soon have an exciting back-to-school relaunch.

In the years since my treatment, I see the world differently: in my life after cancer, I cherish every small, beautiful moment. I want to make sure others have the chance to enjoy those moments, too.

That’s why I donate to Memorial Sloan Kettering each year—and have included MSK in my estate plans. I know it will lead to more lifesaving treatments for people just like me all over the country. And I want to help.

For me, a bequest to Memorial Sloan Kettering is a way to guarantee that people with cancer will receive the help they need for years to come. I know firsthand how important that can be.

After everything I’ve been through, I’m certain: I want saving lives to be a part of my legacy.

Advance MSK Breakthroughs With a Gift

When you include MSK in your will or other estate plans, you help our experts make significant progress in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Contact the Office of Planned Giving at or 800-688-1827 for details or to notify us of your gift.

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center 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 bequeath to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a New York nonprofit corporation having a principal place of business at 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, Federal Tax ID #13-1924236, ____percent of my total estate (or $_____, or other property) to be used or disposed of as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in its sole discretion deems appropriate.

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 MSK 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 MSK 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 MSK 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 MSK where you agree to make a gift to MSK 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.

A tax imposed at one's death on the transfer of most types of property. Currently federal estate taxes are assessed in 2022 on estates worth more than $11.2 million. The maximum estate tax rate is 40 percent. Some states also impose taxes at death that vary depending on state law.

A written legal instrument created by a grantor for the benefit of him/herself (during life) or others (during life or at death).

A revocable trust established by a grantor during his or her lifetime in which the grantor transfers some or all of his or her property into the trust.

Equity or debt instruments, typically shares listed on a stock exchange, which can be readily bought or sold.