Campus / News / April 8, 2010

Ingersoll estate to endow new computer science chair

Knox College will be receiving approximately $1.3 million from the estate of Bill Ingersoll, Knox class of 1951. Mr. Ingersoll died in May 2007, leaving his estate to Knox College and his caretaker, Ms. Kathy Howell. Knox College President Roger Taylor has said that he “has recommended to the board that that money be used to endow a new chair of Computer Science in accordance with Mr. Ingersoll’s wishes.”

Mr. Ingersoll worked for Arther Anderson before retiring to Asheville, North Carolina, with his wife Marilyn Ingersoll, also class of 1951. Ms. Ingersoll died in January 2005. At the time, the estate was valued at approximately $6 million.

In April of that year the trust was changed to leave $2 million to Howell and $4 million to Knox, half for an endowed chair and half for a scholarship. Sometime after this, Mr. Ingersoll, without consulting with his lawyer, changed the beneficiary of a $1.3 million life insurance policy so that it went to Howell.

When Mr. Ingersoll died in 2007, the total value of the estate was approximately $4 million. Under normal circumstances, gifts to Knox College would not be subject to estate taxes. However, because some of the money went to Howell, the Ingersoll estate was taxed. The effects of the estate tax and the collapse of the stock market, combined with the sale of Ingersoll’s house in Asheville for $900,000 instead of $1.9 million, decreased the total value of the estate to approximately $2.5 million.

In a March 25 e-mail to the Knox Business Advisory Council, Taylor stated, “After the house sale, the value of the estate to be split between Ms. Howell and Knox was $2.58 million. Ms. Howell has asserted that the $1.42 million decrease in estate value from $4 million should be charged to Knox and that she should receive $2 million (in addition to the $1.3 million in insurance proceeds that she already has received.) Northern Trust, as trustee for Bill’s trust, has let Ms. Howell know that if she does not agree to the split with Knox as contemplated by the trustee agreement, Northern will file suit in Chicago and ask the court to determine the matter.”

As of April 5, however, an e-mailed report to the faculty states that Howell had signed the appropriate papers agreeing to split the money from the estate with Knox College. Taylor confirmed on April 7 that the necessary papers have indeed been signed and that the school will indeed be receiving approximately $1.3 million for use in endowing a chair of Computer Science.

Ben Reeves

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