A few years ago, Roman Blum died at age 97 in New York State. His body moldered in the morgue for four days before Roman’s lawyer was found. It turned out that Roman had died without a will. As a childless Holocaust survivor, his 40 million dollar estate ended up being paid to New York State, which is ironic. As a passionate supporter of nonprofits, he could have directed that his money go to his favorite charities upon his death. A close friend and fellow Holocaust survivor said of him, “He was a very smart man, but he died like an idiot.”
As attorneys, we have seen less dramatic, but equally tragic stories pass through our town. We have also witnessed the unexpected joys of planned giving to nonprofits. With a thoughtful estate plan, you can live forever through your legacy of planned giving. You can make a plan to give back to the community that has given much to your family, while still sharing your hard earned wealth with your children or other heirs. Fortunately, Homer is home to many nonprofits that will outlive us, and that steward local arts, music, youth programs, marine and environmental conservation, land conservation, public radio, and many other facets of our community that we cherish.
The Homer area is also very fortunate to have a community foundation, the Homer Foundation, that is tasked with a mission to receive, invest and distribute estate gifts for the benefit of the Homer area communities, forever. Whom did I love and whose love do I still see around me in Homer through charitable giving? Among many others, Drew Scalzi, with his wry sense of humor; Mary Epperson, my favorite little leprechaun; the gentle giant that was Peter Larson; Nikki Fry Geragotelis, the young athlete with a can-do attitude; and of course, Renda Horn, who patiently tried to teach me accordion. They will live forever in our hearts, and beyond our lives.
To help promote estate planning and charitable giving in our community, the Friends of the Homer Library will be presenting three free seminars on estate plans. The first presentation will be on March 19th from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. entitled Estate Planning For Blended Families (second marriages and/or families with step-children). If you or your partner have a child from a previous relationship, the rules for dying without a will are surprising.
A second free seminar will be presented on April 16th from 6 p.m.- 7 p.m. entitled Estate Planning For Couples And Families With Minor Children. Among other important goals, your will can designate who will raise your children in your absence.
The final seminar will be presented on May 16th from 6 p.m.- 7 p.m. with a focus on How to Avoid Probate. All seminars will be held at the Homer Public Library.
If you attend a presentation and decide to draft a will or trust with one of the three attorney presenters, that attorney will donate 10% of their fee for the estate plan to a Homer nonprofit of the attorney’s choice. If your estate plan provides a significant gift to a local nonprofit (of your choice), the attorney-presenter will reduce your cost for the estate plan by ten percent.
As a friend recently said, by planned giving we plant a robust tree under whose shade we will never sit. That is perhaps our greatest gift to a very special community. Andy Haas, husband, father, nonprofit activist, and attorney.