Charitable Trust Is a Win-Win for Professor and Wife
Dr. Bhagawandas P. Lathi, who retired a few years ago from a 39-year career as a professor of electrical engineering, is convinced that "Almost anyone in the Indian community can benefit from using a charitable remainder trust."
Charitable remainder trusts allow donors to sell stock, real estate and other assets tax-free, and to benefit good causes at the same time. Dr. Lathi and his wife Rajani, who live in Carmichael, a suburb of Sacramento, California, are co-trustees of their own charitable remainder trust which they established in 2001. They used the trust to sell the publishing rights to two of Dr. Lathi's books to Oxford University Press. "It was a win-win situation for everyone," he said.
Clearly two of the biggest winners were Hinduism Today and the India Development Relief Fund, which will receive equal shares of whatever remains in the trust after 20 years from the foundation date (that's 2021.) But the Lathis won as well. The use of the trust allowed them to bypass all tax on the $600,000 sale price for the publishing rights, to receive an immediate income-tax deduction, and to become the income beneficiaries of the charitable trust for 20 years. The income from the trust supplements their retirement plan.
"Hinduism Today has done a good job of defending the Hindu religion from outside attacks, as well as explaining it," Dr. Lathi said, describing why he chose the magazine to benefit from their trust. "We deeply value the Hindu tradition of letting people worship in their own ways for reaching the ultimate reality, eschewing proselytization and hegemony," he emphasized. "That's a message that Hinduism Today underscores." He bristles at the use of the word tolerance in interreligious discussion, declaring, "Tolerance implies you're putting up with an inferior position."
Of the two books with which the Lathis funded their trust, Linear Systems and Signals offers a 940-page development for undergraduates of signals as well as systems to process signals. This important area encompasses applications in such diverse fields as speech and image processing, satellite and space communication, biomedical systems, and aerospace, automotive and industrial applications. The Internet, cell phones, satellites and other electronic devices use signal processing routinely to transmit everything from text messages between teenagers to images from Jupiter.
Dr. Lathi, who is Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering at California State University, Sacramento, considered using a charitable remainder trust after attending a seminar on the subject and consulting with his attorney. "I suggest that people look at the charitable remainder trust very carefully," he urged. "It is a valuable philanthropic and estate-planning tool that has worked well for us."