What would you like your legacy to be?

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What is your legacy?  What do you passionately care about in our Lenawee County community?  What organizations do you currently support through your time, talent, or treasure?  What do you believe could be your greatest gift to benefit your community?

Have you heard the saying, “We have all drunk from wells we did not dig”?  It makes sense for us to ponder what a wonderful place Lenawee County is and how we benefit from the philanthropic efforts of those who walked before us.  It also makes sense to think about how we can leave things better for those who will come after us.

Nationally, we’re familiar with Carnegie’s legacy that provided funding for thousands of libraries, including libraries in Hudson and Tecumseh.  Locally, we can point to Herrick Memorial Hospital, Stubnitz Environmental Education Center, or the Merillat Sport and Fitness Center at Adrian College.

“Great,” you say.  Applaud these individuals.  But of course they had the means with which to make gifts of significance.  Philanthropy isn’t relevant to the rest of us who work to make monthly mortgage payments, search for ways to pay for our kids’ education, and feel that our credit card balance rivals the national debt.

But the good news is that with planning, almost anyone can make a long-term difference for his/her favorite cause.  The bad news is that hardly anyone does.  In fact, only about five percent of wills or trusts include any provision for charity.

So, think about it.  Let’s say that your total asset base, including your home, will be worth about $250,000 when you pass away.  After reflection, you decide that you want your children and grandchildren to receive 80 percent of your estate.  Then you decide to split the remaining 20 percent between your favorite charity and your church.

What would happen?  Your heirs would receive $200,000, while the charity and your church would each receive $25,000.  If these gifts were endowed (meaning that a portion of the earnings was granted annually with the gift remaining intact and growing), this would enable you to give a gift of $1,000 to your church and $1,000 to your favorite charity every year — forever!

The message you leave is a powerful one.  What it says to others is that you care about your community, and want Lenawee to be a wonderful place for others to live, work, and raise our families in the future.  The legacy that you leave to your community, and even your future heirs, is so beneficial and can last forever.

There are many options for charitable giving that you can utilize to both maximize your tax benefits and your gift to charity.  Consider your IRA, which will be highly taxed to your heirs; appreciated stock; or a provision in your will or trust.

So, what would you like your legacy to be?

Your legacy can be helping children, providing for the basic needs of families, or serving senior citizens.

Your legacy can be increasing access to health care, supporting a medical clinic, hospice, or the local hospital, or providing public education about healthy choices.

Your legacy can be supporting preschool education, giving students leadership opportunities, or funding higher education through scholarships.

Your legacy can be supporting the symphony, promoting art, or providing help to the performing arts.

Your legacy can be funding projects in your hometown, supporting equipment for your police or fire department, or promoting economic development.

There are many resources to assist you in leaving a legacy.  Contact your attorney, accountant, trust officer, or financial planner, or if you do not have anyone specific in mind, the Lenawee Community Foundation will welcome your call to us at 517.423.1729.

Whatever your wishes, your hopes, your dreams for our community, you can make them a reality – for good, forever.

Written by Sue Hammersmith, President & CEO

Lenawee Community Foundation

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The Lenawee Community Foundation assists individuals, businesses, communities, and organizations in achieving their charitable goals for our community in the areas of health, civic projects, culture, education and human services.  To explore how your gift can last for good forever contact Sue Hammersmith or call 517-423-1729.