Thinking about legacy and estate planning and philanthropy through family foundations and such can feel daunting. These are big deal undertakings and very import. The outcomes are meaningful and the entire process is not to be taken lightly. It can be easier and less like work if you understand it as a part of your ongoing lifestyle.
Art collectors and enthusiasts are collectors and enthusiasts all of the time. Philanthropists are philanthropists all of the time. You serve on the boards and committees, you tithe, you give your annual gifts, you attend the events and the galas, you support the programs, etc cetera. What you really want, I think, is to keep doing that, only bigger and forever. If you’re not doing that, start doing that, Life insurance, with the trust or the foundation as beneficiary can fund your ongoing gifts, but you really want to be as active and generous as you can muster right now. You want to be well remembered as an avid participant and a warrior for the cause (whatever the cause), and not just as someone who wanted to buy some recognition.
I don’t like the Sylvia Bloom strategy. You probably don’t know who she is, but she left $8M in her will to fund college scholarships for kids in New York. (No criticism there. God love her for it.) No one knew she had any money at all, including her husband who predeceased her and had to teach after he retired from the Fire Department to make the ends meet. Ms Bloom was a retired secretary who had invested quietly and wisely but did not live particularly well and did not get to enjoy participating during her lifetime in a cause she seems to have felt passionately about. I love the Montclair Art Museum and Arts Unbound and the artists who’s work I collect. It is endlessly rewarding and fun to do things with and for those organizations and people. I’ll leave big gifts, when it’s time, and they’ll put my name on something, but I’m working on my legacy of loving participation right now…and I’m really enjoying it.
William S Jiggetts