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Man established charitable trust as his sole beneficiary

In a recent post on this blog we discussed the story of a woman who lived modestly and out of the public eye until she left a surprisingly large fortune to local scholarship funds in her will. It is more common than many readers realize for people who have accumulated significant savings to continue to live a modest lifestyle, particularly if they grew up living modestly. Another case like this recently made the news, when a man who worked for many years as a lawyer for the Veterans Administration made a bequest in his will of over $187 million to three different charitable groups.

A friend of the man told reporters that he was careful with his money while he was alive and that he sought to do the most good possible with his great wealth. The man’s stepdaughter said that he wore sweaters with holes in them, resisting to spend the money he had set aside for charities. The bequest in the man’s will established a charitable trust benefitting three organizations, including the Salvation Army, a children’s hospital, and the law school that he had attended.

The donation to the Salvation Army came as a surprise to the organization who had not previously known the man as a donor.

Stories like this one are a nice reminder around the holiday season that local and national organizations can benefit significantly from those who choose to include charitable giving as a part of their estate plans. This method is not suitable for everyone, since all families are different and have their own set of concerns.

Source: ABA Journal, “Longtime government lawyer left $188M charitable trust, including record gift to his law school,” Martha Neil, Nov. 26, 2013.