patty merrill

Patty Merrill, a longtime donor and member of the VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center Advisory Board, has named the organization among the beneficiaries of her individual retirement accounts. Photo credit: Daniel Min, MCV Foundation

Teeing Up Future Support for Cancer Care and Research

Richmond resident Patty Merrill was introduced to VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center almost two decades ago when she participated in a women’s golf tournament supporting breast cancer research at Massey.

Today, as a generous donor and longtime member of Massey’s Advisory Board, Merrill is working to ensure future generations have access to the best available cancer research and care.

Cancer impacts everyone, and everyone should have the benefit of knowing about prevention and then also getting the best treatment.

She’s decided to support Massey’s mission by naming the center among the beneficiaries of her individual retirement accounts. By using a beneficiary designation to make the gift, Merrill has the peace of mind that comes from knowing that when she passes, her gift will benefit Massey immediately, without the delays or costs of probate.

“I’ve tried to be as generous as I could during my lifetime,” she said, “but it is the big picture I’m interested in and knowing that I can make the significant impact with a legacy gift.”

Like many people, Merrill has had loved ones in her family experience cancer, and she has seen first-hand the importance of a health care organization that not only treats the disease, but holistically cares for the patient. She describes Massey as that kind of center. Patients receive excellent care during treatment and after, and that continued support is crucial to their healing process. 

During her time on the board, Merrill said she has seen a transformation at Massey. The capstone of that hard work occurred earlier this year with the announcement that the cancer center had achieved comprehensive status, a designation from the National Cancer Institute that puts Massey in a highly selective group of cancer centers nationwide.  

She said the distinction is the result of many factors, including Massey’s community-centric focus, championed by its director, Robert A. Winn, M.D., who holds the Lipman Chair in Oncology. Massey’s community outreach and engagement serves as a model for addressing health equity research, care and policy initiatives.

“It’s unsettling to me that because of where I live and my life experiences, I have a 10-year longer life expectancy than those who live in other parts of the Richmond community,” Merrill said. “Massey’s renewed focus on and proximity to communities that have been historically overlooked means we can close that gap.  Cancer impacts everyone, and everyone should have the benefit of knowing about prevention and then also getting the best treatment.”

In making her estate plans, Merrill left the gift unrestricted so Massey can make the best possible use of her support in the future.

“Those in charge at Massey will know the most important needs and how to best use those funds,” she said. “Ultimately, it’s all research that moves us closer to a world where cancer is an afterthought.”

Make a Great Impact with a Charitable Beneficiary Designation

Allows You to

  • Name the MCV Foundation as a beneficiary of your retirement plan or other account to benefit a unit on the MCV Campus.
  • Make a gift that doesn’t cost you anything right now.
  • Provide future support for the causes or unit you care most about on the MCV Campus.

How It Works

  • Retirement plans, IRAs, life insurance and commercial annuities are not controlled by the terms of your will but instead use beneficiary forms to determine who receives them.
  • Beneficiary forms supersede your will when it comes to passing these assets, making them effective and easy ways to leave a legacy.
  • By naming the MCV Foundation as a beneficiary of one of these assets, a gift will come directly to the MCV Foundation to be used in the manner you have directed.

How You Benefit

  • Beneficiary designations are one of the simplest ways to make a legacy gift.
  • You maintain control of your assets during your lifetime and can modify your plans as needed.
  • Your gift passes outside of probate and is excluded from your estate for tax purposes.
  • You avoid passing heavily taxed assets to heirs if you designate certain asset types for the MCV Foundation.
  • You will become a member of the MCV Society, which honors those who have made a planned gift of any size to support one of the MCV Campus partners. Society members are invited to special events and programs in appreciation of their commitment to the future of the MCV Campus.

Ways to Give

  • Retirement plans and IRAs
  • Life insurance policies
  • Commercial annuities
  • Bank accounts
  • Investment accounts

For more information about charitable beneficiary designations or any other planned gift to the MCV Campus, please contact Jason Chestnutt, CFP®, executive director of planned giving for the MCV Campus, at 804-828-1671 or