How you can make a will that matters By Beth Rose, VP of Philanthropy and External Relations

The majority of adult Americans don’t have a will. Do you?

When I was in my 30s, I learned first-hand about the importance of getting a will done. My father was dying of cancer, and although he was an attorney himself, he had never completed his will. A friend of the family came to visit him and didn’t just urge him to do a will – he called a colleague to come to my father’s bedside and work with him. My family was fortunate that my dad still had the presence of mind to put his affairs in order and to complete his will. When he passed, we were able to focus on supporting each other and going through the grieving process, not having to deal with figuring out his wishes or going through a lengthy and messy probate process. I will always be thankful to this friend and the attorney who was available on a moment’s notice.
A recent survey by caring.com shows that most adult Americans don’t have a will. For many, the idea of estate planning may seem depressing or overwhelming.  While it’s tempting to put off making a will for a later date, there’s a comfort in getting your will done, and it is truly a gift to your loved ones – as I well know.

When you create your will, it allows you to express what is important to you and enables you to direct where you want your assets to go, rather than having the state do it for you. It helps you provide for your loved ones – financially and emotionally. Your will can also ensure that the communities, causes or organizations that you care about continue to receive support after you’re gone.

Estate planning isn’t only for those who have a certain level of wealth, reached a milestone birthday, or are married with children.

At The Alaska Community Foundation, we often talk with donors about their values and the legacy they want to leave behind. These are very special and private conversations, and they often take place over several meetings. Often, a professional advisor, such as an estate planning attorney, is involved in some or all of the discussion.

Our goal is to understand what is most meaningful to the individuals or couples in their lifetime, and the difference they want to make it this world. The Alaska Community Foundation can help them carry out their philanthropic goals now and through their estate plans. For some people, that might mean creating a Donor Advised Fund to involve their children or grandchildren in philanthropy. It might mean giving to The Alaska Fund, a permanent philanthropic endowment for our state, or to a local Community Foundation Affiliate to benefit a community they have always called home. Or they might wish to create an endowment for a nonprofit they love. The Alaska Community Foundation offers many ways to make a difference.

A special service we offer is to provide a free “legacy fund agreement” that expresses your charitable interests and can be included with your will. This fund agreement is non-binding and can be updated at no cost any time.

The Alaska Community Foundation doesn’t do estate planning, nor do we offer financial advice. However, we can provide the names of estate planning attorneys, CPAS, financial advisors and trust managers for those who need referrals. In Anchorage, we are active with the Anchorage Estate Planning Council and can the names of those who are active in the Council who provide estate planning services. For individuals in other parts of Alaska, we can reach out to our Affiliate Community Foundations for recommendations.

For assistance in philanthropic planning, please feel free to contact me brose@alaskacf.org or 907-249-6611 or call The Alaska Community Foundation at 907-334-6700.