Werner Koppitz, PhD, lost his wife, Elizabeth, in 1983. She was 64, and they were looking forward to more years together.
Elizabeth had been an educational psychologist who had devoted her career to children and assessing their development. She had made significant contributions in her field, and she is still famous today for her scoring system on the Bender-Gestalt test.
After Elizabeth died, Werner, also a psychologist, wanted to honor her. Elizabeth had loved her work in child psychology and had wanted others to thrive and contribute to this field, just as she had done. He decided to make a bequest to the American Psychological Foundation (APF) in her name to provide scholarships for promising graduate students in child psychology.
Many years later when Werner died in 2000, APF established the Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz Fellowship Program with his bequest. Since then, APF has awarded almost $500,000 in Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz scholarships to some of the most promising students in child psychology. Werner's gift will seed the field for generations to come.
Werner wrote the bequest in his will many years before he died, and it gave him pleasure whenever he spoke of it. Most people in this country do not have wills. As a result, they have no say in what happens to their estate. When you die without a will, the court will make decisions for you, but the court does not know if you had a favorite niece, cause or charity that you would have liked to support. The court will follow a strict formula, and cannot honor whatever thoughts and wishes you may have had.
Deciding and following through on making a will is difficult; however, once you have it written, you can always change it. In fact, you should examine your will every four or five years to ensure that the document best reflects your wishes.
Bequests from psychologists account for almost 60 percent of the foundation's $15 million endowment. Whether or not you choose to make a gift to APF, you should make sure you have a will. It is the only way to make sure your wishes will be accomplished and that you can make a difference.
If you would like information on how to make a bequest to APF, please feel free to contact us at e-mail or call me at (202) 336-5843.
The American Psychological Foundation is a nonprofit, philanthropic organization that advances the science and practice of psychology as a means of understanding behavior and promoting health, education and human welfare.