The SafeEstates Blog

Leaving A Legacy

Most of our goals focus on one-year, five-year and ten-year time spans. We don’t spend nearly enough time thinking about the legacy we want to leave to our family, friends and community.
You probably know this story. Oseola McCarty quit school in 6th grade to care for her aunt. She earned her living doing laundry in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She never owned a car. She never married and had no children. She died from cancer in 1999 at age 91. Ms. McCarty is remembered because with the help of an attorney and bank trust officer she established an irrevocable trust with her life savings; at her death the trust fund was distributed ten percent to her church, ten percent to each of three relatives, and sixty percent ($150,000) to the University of Southern Mississippi to provide scholarships for students with financial need.
When I read Ron Chernow’s Titan (Random House, 1998), a biography of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., I was impressed with the evolution of Rockefeller’s philanthropy. After Standard Oil was criticized for corporate greed and abuse he realized he could do something to revive his tarnished image. Also, he became concerned his growing vast fortune would cause his heirs to become intoxicated with power and dissipated by wealth unless he established “permanent corporate philanthropies for the good of mankind.” In 1909 he funded the Rockefeller Foundation with an initial gift of Standard Oil of New Jersey stock worth $50 million. In its most recent published annual report, the Rockefeller Foundation has $4 billion in assets and distributes more than $170 million in grants annually.
I expect your wealth falls somewhere between Oseola McCarty and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Maybe you plan to spend it all. Maybe you have dozens of descendants or maybe you have none. Whatever your circumstances, you have dominion over your time, financial blessings, feelings, motives and decisions, and you are surrounded by opportunities to be a sage and mentor to younger generations. Let’s make 2020 a banner year for kindness and generosity.
~ Randy Hooper