Frederik B. Wilcox left a multi-layered legacy when he died in 1965. A champion of both risk and prudence, he famously wrote, “Progress always involves risk. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” Thanks to those oft-quoted words, Wilcox will be remembered for his wit, and, based on his financial wisdom, he’ll also be remembered for his will. Two years ago, a bequest by Wilcox granted the largest unrestricted gift to the Rhode Island Foundation in its 100-year-history. An investment banker who forged his way from humble beginnings, Wilcox left a trust of about $1 million, to be overseen by his daughter, Nancy W. Mattis. He specified that 60 percent of whatever it had grown to at the time of her own passing would be given to the Rhode Island Foundation. Due to her careful stewardship, the trust grew to $48 million by the time she died in 2016 at age 95. Based on his foresight and her care, the foundation received $28 million in unrestricted funds, a grand slam for the smallest state in the union and a testament to the lasting power of estate planning. The Wilcox plan worked beautifully for several reasons. First, he set up his legacy plan carefully and designated beneficiaries based on his own passions and beliefs. Then, he chose a capable (turns out gifted) trustee to manage the account. Lastly, he vetted his beneficiary carefully and understood that the Rhode Island Foundation would be solvent and prepared to handle his generous bequest a half century after he made it. Mr. Wilcox began his life impoverished, but he’ll be remembered for generations thanks to astute estate planning. At Winch Financial, we don’t just recognize exceptional legacies, we help build them. If you or anyone you know has any questions regarding estate planning, please contact us. We’re always glad to help.
According to the Snapple Fact I found under the cap of my peach iced tea yesterday, it took Leonardo da Vinci 12 years to paint the lips of Mona Lisa. Of course, Snapple Facts occasionally require further research. For instance, if, as many historians believe, da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa between 1503 and 1506, how could he have taken 12 years to paint the lips? I dug a little deeper and concluded that, while it didn’t take him 12 years to paint her lips, it did take him at least that long to finish tweaking them until he handed the painting over to his patron, Francois I, sometime after 1514. It’s an admirable approach to crafting a legacy and one we can all apply to our own efforts. The Da Vinci Code for legacy planning – build, study, tweak — works. The first step is to build your masterpiece and, for this, like Da Vinci, you’ll need to work with a mentor. Choose your estate planner carefully. He or she needs to be both well-versed in tax laws and effective planning techniques, and well-connected to equally skilled attorneys. This phase requires the most effort. You have to analyze your assets and the manner in which you’d like to pass them on. You should communicate your goals to both your advisor and your family. Think hard about the legacy you’d like to leave, and then work to achieve it. Once you’ve built your legacy plan, you should take a step back and study it. Does it address the opportunities and obstacles you foresee? Will it withstand economic and familial pressure? Most importantly, does it accurately reflect you? Properly constructed, a legacy plan lasts forever. However, it may still be important to tweak it every now and then. Tax laws and family situations change. Charitable goals can shift as well. Check in with your advisor for periodic reviews. Remember, a will… | Read More »