James R. Posner *70: Shared Priorities, Mutual Benefits

February 13th, 2014 / Gift Planning

Creating a trust at Princeton helps James Posner *70 and Jill Prosky secure their financial future.

When Harvard alumnus Jim Posner was choosing a graduate school, he decided on Princeton because “Princeton was flexible, welcoming, and encouraged individual goals.”

He planned to earn a PhD in sociology, but, unlike many in the discipline, was focused on computer science and statistics, not an academic career. He found what he was looking for at Princeton, where he learned “the skills, vocabulary, and worldview that would shape my life.” And, he added, “The University was very generous to me during graduate study.”

It is the same flexibility and attention to individual circumstances that Posner found in Princeton’s Office of Gift Planning when he sought a way to show his “great appreciation” to the University. At the same time, he was considering ways to enhance his family’s financial security and making estate plans.

Meeting the Objectives

Posner and his wife, Jill Prosky, working in consultation with Senior Philanthropic Advisor Jane Danek, decided that a charitable remainder unitrust was the perfect instrument for their family. These trusts are gifts to Princeton that offer payments to the donor or a designated recipient, either for life or a specified term. The capital eventually flows to the University, to be used for general support or in accordance with the donor’s specific instructions.

The Posners’ trust will be used by the University to meet its highest funding needs at the time the money becomes available. Posner said he set it up this way because “the University’s priorities are my priorities.” He had previously created a charitable remainder unitrust during the lifetime of his stepfather, the late Irving Wallace. That unitrust was quite unusual because it was designed to benefit six individuals—Wallace's stepchildren and their spouses—for a fixed term of 20 years before reverting to Princeton. Structuring the trust in this manner also gave Wallace a significant tax deduction while he was alive, and avoided gift and estate taxes.

Posner, after a career in healthcare administration and insurance, now manages a small family charitable foundation, the Posner-Wallace Foundation, that supports community development organizations in the United States, Latin America, and Israel. He also volunteers for Princeton as a member of the sociology department’s advisory council.

“Looking to the future,” Posner said, “our financial advisor urged us to set three sets of objectives: how much you might need for yourself in retirement; how much to leave to family and those close to you; and what you want to leave for charity and as a legacy—both personal and institutional." Princeton, he said, “has been not only helpful but also imaginative in helping us toward our own philanthropic and personal goals. You discuss what you want to achieve, and Princeton’s gift planning staff will make it happen.”

For more information on creating a trust at Princeton or making another kind of planned gift, contact one of our philanthropic advisors in the Office of Gift Planning at 609.258.6318, or e-mail 1746soc@princeton.edu.