I have to ask you to bear with me while I fill in some back details so you understand where I am coming from with this post. Three years ago, my father was vacationing at the beautiful Poets Cove Resort. A sunny fall afternoon bike ride led him to a beautiful location called Brooks Point on South Pender Island.
At Brooks Point, he found a flyer placed by the Pender Island Conservancy group. The group was actively fundraising to purchase a lot that would complete the park. Being a huge nature lover, my dad donated several times over the next three years. Today, with the help of locals, off island supporters, @HAT, the federal government and other supporters - a full year ahead of schedule - Brooks Point is a stunning 10-acre park which everyone can enjoy for years to come.
Advisors often tell me they don't know what to blog about, and I always tell them inspiration comes from the people and events around you. My father invited me to join him at Brooks Point this week, where a small group of donors and supporters came together to celebrate the success that came after a decade of dedication. A story I heard at Brooks Point inspired me to write this blog post.
During this celebration, I was told HOW the property became available for purchase. Decades earlier, a father bought a gorgeous pie shaped piece of waterfront property. He willed the property in equal shares to his son and daughter. His daughter wanted to keep the property and the son did not. Valued at about $1.6 million, the daughter could not afford to buy her brother out. I know nothing about their relationship prior to the father's passing, but it is believed that in the end, all communication about the land was handled by their lawyers.
I wonder if the father ever spoke with his children about their plans for the future and whether or not they were interested in keeping the land. With some proper estate planning, this difficult situation may have been avoided. Let's suppose the father had changed the structure of his will. It's clear he wanted each child to receive an equal inheritance, but if he had known the son did not want ownership of the property, perhaps he would have used life insurance to create an equal gift instead. Each child would have received a generous inheritance, and family squabbles may have been reduced.
As an advisor, you've likely heard a similar story yourself - one that might be worth blogging about. Parents often leave cottages and family companies to their children. They assume their decisions are in their children's best interest, but a well-timed conversation might reveal otherwise. Some basic estate planning might save many future headaches for families who find themselves in similar situations.
On another note, if you have clients like my dad - with a deep love of the outdoors and a philanthropic nature - you may want to consider writing a blog post about the many ways to help out. Some ways to leave a legacy include:
- donating land
- donating securities
- donating through life insurance
- donating cash to the endowment fund
For more information you can visit the planned giving section on the Habitat Acquisition Trust website.