Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Gygax Memorial Fund and the Gail C. Gygax Revocable Trust

It's frustrating when members of our community mix apples and oranges freely. The differences between the Gygax Memorial Fund and the Gail C. Gygax Revocable Trust couldn't be huger, but the main point is - they are completely separate and independent entities even if the one calling the shots behind both of them is the same person.

The Gygax Memorial Fund Inc "is a public charity non-profit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. Contributions are fully deductible to the extent allowed by law. The fund's tax identification number is 30-0580070." That's a mouthful but it establishes it as a public charity recognized by the US government and subject to Wisconsin laws.

What actually defines section 501(c)(3)?
Religious, Educational, Charitable, Scientific, Literary, Testing for Public Safety, to Foster National or International Amateur Sports Competition, or Prevention of Cruelty to Children or Animals Organizations.
How does a memorial fall under this section? It's an interesting solution that was used for this.
The specific objectives and tax exempt purpose of this 501(C)(3) organization shall be:
  • To commission and place a memorial in a public park of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to honor Gary Gygax by commemoration of literary achievement in the creation of Dungeons & Dragons and other published works
  • To maintain this memorial in perpetuity
  • To sponsor informational events open to the public which focus on his work
  • To engage in other activities related to educating the public about his achievement
  • And to establish a scholarship program in his name for students with a demonstrated need for assistance to study at an accredited college or university.
Notice those last two bullets? That firmly establishes and defines the Gygax Memorial Fund as a 501(c)(3) for IRS purposes. It would be interesting to see the monies spent on those last two bullet points as I have heard little if any discussion of efforts to fulfill those objectives. The scholarship program should have been an easy one to kick off.

The Gail C. Gygax Revocable Trust is a strange beast, but the very nature of Revocable Trusts in the State of Wisconsin is strange:
What is a revocable living trust? 
A trust is a written document that names someone to be responsible for managing property for the benefit of others. A revocable living trust (also called a "living trust" or "revocable trust") is one type of trust. 
It's a "living" trust because you create it while you're alive. It's "revocable" because, as long as you're mentally competent, you can change or end the trust at any time, for any reason. You need no one's permission to do so unless you have created a joint trust with your spouse. In Wisconsin, a trust is revocable unless it specifically states it is irrevocable in the trust document. Usually a living revocable trust becomes irrevocable (not open to changes) when you die
A trust involves three parties: 
The settlor or grantor is you, the person who creates the trust. 
The trustee is the person who agrees to accept your property and manage it as the trust agreement directs. You can name more than one trustee, thus creating co-trustees who must act together. Usually you are the trustee during your lifetime. 
The beneficiaries are those who will receive the income from the property in the trust and, with your direction, the property itself.
It is the Trust, not the Fund, that controls Gary's IP. While the Fund is subject to public scrutiny, the Trust is not. Do NOT confuse the two. Gary's IP is not linked to the memorial and it never has been. While the Trust could, in theory, donate money to the Fund, the Fund could not give monies to the Trust.


  1. Not at all, revocable trusts are very common entities. I do taxes for a living and all of my older clients have them. They are a good way to set things up to carry on after one is gone. Whether it is for the care of one's spouse, or whether it is an investment portfolio that is carrying forward, or any number of other reasons to create a trust, it really is not a license to steal.


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