Great lessons come back to you when you need them. I have been working on re-writing and updating my estate plan. I can’t get a board member of a child abuse agency I met out of my mind. It was at least 10 years ago.
He was a widower in his eighties. I frankly can’t even remember his name. We had dinner together and were talking about planned giving and he told me that he had divided his estate by 7. He said that he had 6 children. The 7th portion was for a child or children who did not have someone to care about or love them. I asked him how it was set up. He said that all 6 of his children had to agree where the money was going. He said that they didn’t always agree on things. (Imagine that!) They could give all the money to one child, to a specific organization or anyway they wanted. They just had to agree. I accused him of being a bit of a control freak. He laughed and agreed. He said the 7th child would be getting in the “healthy six figures,” so they might divide it any number of ways.
I asked him how he came up with this brilliant concept. He said that after his death, he wanted 3 things for his children:
- He wanted his children to agree on at least something and to have a meaningful conversation about philanthropy.
- He wanted them to know that they weren’t the only people in the world and that they were responsible for more than their own happiness.
- And he wanted them to remember that he had been a 7th child and had grown up in an orphanage and that without the kindness and generosity of others, who gave him friendship and scholarships and a helping hand, there would be no money to divide.
When we talk to our donors about planned giving, consider asking them what they want to leave their children besides money. I think this guy had it right.
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