So I've recently decided to rewrite my will because the current primary beneficiary is my ex. In my old will, I basically said he could have everything, with small portions being allocated to other friends and family and a charity.
The dilemma I have is this: I have no idea how to split up my assets now that I do not have a single person to whom to transfer the bulk of the estate. The current net value of my assets is about $2.5m, and I am 55. I am not planning on going anywhere soon, but it's probably enough that it is worth having a will.
I feel very strange about leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars to any of my friends, even my close ones. That just seems... odd. Ditto my family. My only relatives are my five nieces and nephews (all children of my now deceased brother), and while I was planning on leaving them each around $5k, I have no intention of bumping this up much more. They are all pleasant enough, but I am not especially close to any of them.
My first step was to invalidate my existing will. That is now done. I am now intestate. If something were to happen to me right now, it looks like my nieces and nephews would get a substantial windfall. I don't like that thought at all, but it beats any of it going to my ex.
Anyone have similar experiences when drafting a will? I've considered giving the whole thing to the charity I was involved with, but in all honesty I don't trust that a large donation like that would be handled responsibly.
Make wahtever personal bequests you are comfortable with, give modsest amounts to local charities and give the rest to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - htye do really good work and Bill's money pays all the bills, so all of your contribution will be used for good things.
You can always donate your estate to charity. I think that's what I plan on doing as my niece and nephew are fine but I am not terribly close to them either.
Sorry - I didn't see your misgivings about charities in your post, OP.
Give it to an animal charity. They are always in need.
Those are reasonable suggestions, thanks. I've certainly thought about leaving a big donation to a charity like The Red Cross or American Cancer Society, and maybe I will. (I hadn't specifically thought of the Gates' Foundation, r1, but I will).
I may end up doing that, but I do feel strange about such a provision because I have little / no connection to those organizations. It feels a bit... I don't know, "empty".
I really didn't think this would be a big deal, but it's been bothering me for sure.
Take some time to think about what really matters to you in life and how your estate might benefit those things.
Some possibilities include educational trusts for your nieces and nephews if they haven't hit college yet. Rather than one charity, possibly choose several causes and maybe some of your local cultural institutions (Philharmonic, theaters, galleries). Is there a medical institution that does worthy research you'd like to support? Or you could endow an educational scholarship in your name in the field you came from or that you admire. If you love the outdoors, you could fund a park or other natural development (boardwalk, trails) in a place you love. And local animal shelters always need funding. Have fun with it - it seems to me like it would be great to have such a wonderful opportunity to help and be part of a solution.
All of these could be set up and the ultimate amount of money you leave can be changed/altered if you do find a significant other whom you deem worthy.
And I agree with you - to leave large sums to friends and extended family doesn't seem ideal.
Do you have pets, OP? I ask because I am in somewhat of a similar position. I am leaving an almost completely paid for home to my family and when I die, my work provides two years salary. Since I have rescued, feral cats, I want to make sure they are looked after. I've made provisions that my friend can stay in my home for only the cost of paying the hydro, etc as long as he looks after the cats. He is currently renting so it would be an up-grade, although he would be dealing with the tasmanian devils.
Your estate is way too large for you to be intestate. Find a good estate planning lawyer ASAP, if you haven't already.
You might consider making the bequests to family that you mention, and put the rest in a trust for charity. You can either name a lawyer, a trusted friend, several friends together or a bank/trust company as trustee. The trust would then manage the funds, invest them, and distribute according to the terms of the trust. The trust document can define the purposes of the trust, and the trustees are then in charge of making whatever bequests to whatever charity as they deem fit. (Usually based upon application by the charity.) In this way, you haven't left the entire amount to one charity, and the trustees have the discretion not to award a charity anything if it should turn out that the charity is somehow "shady."
Hope this helps. But you really need a lawyer. :)
OP, whatever you do don't give it to a no kill shelter/rescue group. They're just hoarders.
You have $2.5 million in assets and you're only allocating $25k in total to your nieces and nephews?
I guess there's a reason you're 55 y.o. and have no one significant in your life. Guess you never spent any money on therapy either.
I'm sorry but someone with that much money knows that he needs a lawyer. I give this a 4 out of 10
$2.5 million broken up into several smaller gifts to worthy charities. Or give it all to a local facility, ie, hospital/hospice, library or rec center. You might get a room named after you!
OP, you sound poor.
If this post is legit, you should leave your estate to your local Hospice Care Network.
Contact me. For 2.5 million Ill be your gay male homosexual lover
Who said I didn't have a lawyer? My lawyer wrote up the original will and also invalidated it when I asked him to. He will happily draw up a new will when I tell him what I want it to say.
r10, it's plain you have enough issues of your own. Don't worry about mine.
How about services for Gay veterans- hasn't the VA suffered drastic cuts? you could specify rxactly what you want the money used for and how.
With all the cuts being made by the fed and state governments, would you consider donating to a school? Or perhaps set up college scholarships for kids who can't afford it.
My classroom has two old pc's for the kids. Once we run out of paper, teachers must buy their own. All of those decorations are paid for by teachers- that stuff is pricey! And I teach in affluent community. I cannot imagine how Title 1 schools make it.
Same thing with libraries. Some have to cut back on their hours of operation.
For family members that you want to remember who are 28 or younger, put $10,000 in a mutual fund trust that they cannot touch for 30 years. Suggestion: Vanguard Total Market Index Fund. State that it cannot be used for a mortgage or borrowed against and it is not community property in case of a divorce. It has to sit there untouched for the whole time. In 30 years that $10k should be worth six figures. Mark and photograph any personal items. Be specific. And anyone who challenges the will is disinherited.
Sorry, OP. Misinterpreted your original post.
The $5K bequest to nephews and nieces seems chintzy. Real chintzy.
[quote]For family members that you want to remember who are 28 or younger, put $10,000 in a mutual fund trust that they cannot touch for 30 years
Just don't let them know until after you're dead.
My stepbrother died of AIDS in the 80s. He was only 40. He owned a company that made window treatments. He left $500,000 in cash to his three siblings (not step, unfortunately). They were all able to buy homes. He is remembered as a generous guy who loved his family more than anything.
Why exactly would you not feel comfortable leaving more than 5k to your nephews and nieces? Unless they're truly horrid people, they're your blood. Why don't you leave the money for college educations for their children?
Why do you keep hoarding money if it's such a pain in the ass for you to deal with? You could give it to someone who could use it - spread it around to food banks and homeless shelters, even before you die. Or go to the top of a tall building and toss a half a million in hundred dollar bills to the people below.
But you'll probably keep on tucking it away and whining about what a burden it is.
I think you need a new lawyer. Mine specializes in estate issues and regularly advises me as I update my will every five years or so. I'm sure she would never allow me to be without a will, even for a day.
I'm currently charity shopping, much like R6 suggested, and I'm getting a great deal of satisfaction from giving some of it away while I'm still around. I've been giving small donations of $100 to causes I support.
My conclusion is that the big charities simply flood your email and snail mail with requests for more money, while the small ones send personal notes, include me in events and generally appreciate my donation more. Right now, there's a tiny foundation in my hometown that's in for a big surprise if I kick off anytime soon.
Doctor's Without Borders?
Did you ever think about endowing a Gay Author's Trust? Perhaps with an annual contest overseen by some gay independent press? The arts are woefully under-funded, and that would be a terrific way to give back to the community.
R18 sounds like a control freak. Here's an idea, how about giving people a boost in life that will enable them to get on the property ladder, get an education, build their own lives that they can define for themselves rather than bequeathing them money that they can't touch for probably 60 years from now? Honestly, some people...
1) The $5k to each of my nephews and nieces was predicated on my then-partner inheriting the way a spouse would. That no longer being the case, I will up that, but not by that much, as they are largely strangers to me. They are closer to the maternal side of their family.
2) I realize there are many worthy organizations. All I am saying is that it would be strange to leave a large sum to an organization I have no connection with; that doesn't mean I won't do it.
3) My lawyer agrees that I should have a will and wants me to get to this sooner rather than later. I was the one who insisted that "no will is better than the one I have". Which is true.
4) @r22. I never said or implied that managing my finances was a problem or a burden. I said nothing remotely close to that. I said that writing my will was an issue-- an issue which I will resolve. As for my finances, I handle them just fine. You have a spectacularly poor understanding of finance if you think that simply having assets is equivalent to "hoarding money".
Great charities that are real and use what money they get to help people are God's Love We Deliver and Coalition for the Homeless.
I'm sure there are also some real animal charities.
Lindsey Lohan apparently wants to remain in rehab. Leave it to her so she can pay the bill for her extended stay.
The OP can leave as much or as little as he wants to his nieces and nephews. Perhaps these kids are doing well financially anyway. Maybe they live two streets over and never visit. Maybe theyre nice people but he barely knows them. Maybe theyre doing it tough but he doesnt care. That's his business. What he asked was what to do with the rest.
I say leave it to charities and causes that mean the most to you. A guy that went to my old high school donated his money to have the dilapidated gym rebuilt. He explained in a letter that playing football took him away from his abusive father and provided some of the only happy memories he had of his childhood and teenage years.
Another woman who lived in the same street as my mom paid off her neighbors mortgage. They would hide her in their home when her abusive drug addicted son would turn up looking for money every couple of years.
So I guess think about what matters to you OP and leave the money with them. I'll be leaving my money with the Fred Hollows foundation. Without glasses I'm legally blind and had I been born in a third world country my life would have very difficult because of my poor eyesight. I would have had to rely on the kindness of people like Fred Hollows, so my money is going there.
There are many worthwhile charities. You can usually look them up and see how they spend their funds. As for not giving it to friends because it may feel strange, you will most likely not be feeling much, if you're dead.
If I had the funds, I would love to give bequests to people I really think would use it wisely or where it would change their lives. A total surprise. I can think of several people in my life who could use it and it could significantly change their future.
Some charities are more worthwhile than others. I agree with the poster above about local charities. Food banks, homeless shelters, organizations that provide medical treatment for the indigent, hospices, and women and children's shelters all need help, and are grateful for anything they're given. In other words, help those people who fall through the cracks and are ignored by people like Bill Gates and the Red Cross.
Go to the rehab unit of any VA hospital and prepare to be shocked. Recent cuts in VA funding mean our solders are being fitted with archaic prosthetics that don't work. Major advances have been made in those fields that have not benefited those who could be helped.
I donated the books I was hoarding when I discovered these guys have nothing to read and are bored to death with network TV. It's really bad, worse than you can imagine.
Don't let posters make you feel guilty for not caring about your family. If your nieces and nephews aren't interested in you, why bother with them? Put your money where it will do some good.
You could establish a trust at your city's local community foundation to include your interests, etc. They are typically called, for example, the Miami Community Foundation or Miami Area Community Foundation.
Btw, shocked it took until r8 to get a volunteer to be the beneficiary.
From my personal experience working for large charities, I'm absolutely against leaving large trusts to any organization.
I don't have time right now to post my favorite stories. I'll see if I can do it tonight.
OP, you said you don't want to leave much to family, that leaving it with friends is "odd," and that you don't trust charities. Oh, and that you don't want to give it to your ex or the state or other strangers.
If that's not quite hoarding it, it is at least a strange attachment to something that will mean nothing to you one instant after you're dead.
Maybe you should spend it before then, so you don't have to worry about other people inheriting it.
OP you should spend as much of it as possible. Go to trips you always wanted or splurge on something. There's no point in hoarding your money. Spend it on yourself or to do some good while you're alive. Just figure out what cause or hobby you're really passionate about and give towards that.
Your life is not over at 55 and you still have the possibility of finding new love. Then you'll have less of a dilemma over who gets what after you're gone.
you've got some serious issues, OP. i'm sure no one you know wants your money anyway, undoubtedly there will be unpleasant memories attached.
I am sorry I'm stll giving this a 4 out of 10
[quote] OP, you said you don't want to leave much to family, that leaving it with friends is "odd," and that you don't trust charities. Oh, and that you don't want to give it to your ex or the state or other strangers.
Racking up a few million over a lifetime is an achievement, and I think that everyone who seriously thinks about what will happen to their estate after they're gone worries that someone will fritter it away or some organization will misappropriate it. To me, it seems like the OP is not psychologically ready to think of life without him, but is in the predicament of being forced to make a will so the default ex doesn't get everything.
So I think the OP ought to do some soul searching:
-What has been important in your life? What has brought you joy? Theater, reading, books, animals?
-What are your ambitions for this money? Is there some social problem that you feel strongly about? Is it important to you that people remember you when you're gone?
-Are there any charitable organizations that you are currently involved with? If not, why not attend a few meetings, get to know and talk to philanthropists in your area. Ask them what their philosophy on giving is.
Once you've have some idea of what your values are, we can move on to talking about a plan for protecting the money from miscreants.
(And I'll write about my non-profit horror stories.)
Partners in Health is one if the best charities in the world. They really change lives and empower people in the third world to be self-sufficient and develop self-sustaining communities. The founder is Paul Farmer, author of Mountains Beyond Mountains, a great read. He should win the Nobel Peace Prize.
I think R35 is onto something. Since no one or no thing seems worthy of your inheritance, why don't you just retire and live off your savings for the rest of your life.
OP, you don't have to decide now forever. Just pick something that generally does good work & doesn't offend you (like Doctors Without Borders, maybe) -- & have that made your beneficiary now.
Then if you're hit by a bus on your way home from the lawyer's office, your estate won't go to next of kin by default.
But if you live long enough to figure out what causes are important to you & research which charities do the best work in those areas, then you can change your will accordingly.
I agree with your lawyer that you should have a will right now, but that doesn't mean that you can't change it later whenever you make up your mind (over & over again if you like).
I agree with R34. If you do leave it to a charity org, just make sure this isn't one of those spend-a-million-on-a-glizty-dinner-to-raise-20k-for-charity types.
It has always been one of my dreams to build a compound of sorts for abandoned children, to house and educate them-- hope I'll be in a position such as yours somewhere in the future. What I mean by sharing this is that maybe instead of giving to an existing charity, you can work on creating your own?
Your problem is a good one, OP. Your money can do a lot of good. Like what r39 said, just make one now, you can always revise it in the future when you're more certain.
Find a school--elementary, high school, college, whatever--and leave a scholarship for poor kids. Or gay kids. Or poor gay kids. You can be as specific as you want as to demographics and interests.
I have a similar problem. I have no family left, no life partner or kids. I don't trust most charities because I've seen how they work. If I'm leaving money...I want it to go directly to people it can help...and to people who have some clue how to manage it so they won't ruin their lives.
Right now I'm leaving money to two people who were important to me in the past. I'm definitely keeping the money "gay".
This gifting to near strangers is not unusual. I knew a man...who inherited a house in the Castro from his gay landlord. He was totally shocked.
That tickles me.
Do yourself a favor and watch the movie The Art of the Steal, which is a really well done documentary about an art collection that was bequeathed as a public trust. It will show you the kinds of politics that go on with donated money.
The problem with leaving money to non-profits or other organizations is that no one is around to protect it or see that it is used for its intended purpose.
I once knew a guy who had left 500k to a large non-profit and had made a plan for how to spend that money with a devel. officer who was vice president at the time. Very shortly after he died, she left, and the incoming vice president said, "No, we're not doing that program. But I want this off my books, so someone think of an alternative." And then they took the alternative to the board to "vote" on it--most boards of non-profits are perfunctory tea parties--so that it would be kosher.
I once knew another non-profit, this one religious, that had, only a few generations of generous donors, had gathered enough to have a "safety" fund of a few hundred thousand and an off-site parsonage. (Some very wealthy churchgoer had donated a house to the church, so that the pastor could live close to the church.) Anyway, eventually a pastor--a real shady guy with an obvious drug/alcohol problem and a bankruptcy problem--convinced the elderly board members that they were going to "blow the church up" by raiding the safety account to "modernize" the church, buy boats to attract the families with kids, put flat screens and computers, etc he had a huge list. Anyway, none of this brought in any more members, so the extra donations the church was counting on didn't happen. And they had to sell the parsonage to settle the debts. The pastor was then fired and removed from the property in a totally undignified way.
My point is that unscrupulous, silly people are attracted to large quantities of money that is being stewarded by stupid people. This is the unacknowledged truth about the non-profit world. And eventually, every great institution ends up with a moron in a position of power.
This is why I advocate leaving the money in the control of a person you trust. Have the trust pay the person a stipend from the interest--say $10k a year--to administer the trust, and choose the recipients of the interest that the money accrues.
So for instance, if your 2.5 million is earning 5% per year, your person would pay out $115,000 to the charities of your choice.
The ONLY reason I'd give the cash to an organization as a lump sum is for a capital building fund--ie if an animal shelter needed $100,000 to build more kennels, or something like that.
I'll write more later.
[quote] This gifting to near strangers is not unusual. I knew a man...who inherited a house in the Castro from his gay landlord. He was totally shocked.
I've never heard of an instance of this in real life, but I agree it has the fairy tale charm to it.
Do what the dying millionaire did in the 1932 movie "If I Had A Million" (which was the basis for the 1950s TV series "The Millionaire"). And do it while you're young & healthy enough to watch what happens.
Four years ago I had a voice mail from a lawyer informing me that a friend of mine had died. We knew each other for 30 years and the relationship was tempestuous and we had not spoken for several years. He was 64 and had been HIV positive for close to 20 years. He was a creative type who scrounged around until inheriting $300,000 in his 40s after his parents deaths.
The lawyer said his will divided the estate between me and two others who were now deceased. Therefore it all went to me. Two years later I received a check for $150,000 which made a HUGE difference in my life.
I remain overwhelmed. He could have left it to a charity but instead left it to people he had been close to.
I don't expect this tale to alter OP's uptight view but anyone else who has money to leave, think about leaving it to PEOPLE who could use it.
OP, there are several serious suggestions here for your consideration. At 55 you might have 25-30 years to go, enough time to know what to do with the bulk of your estate as your life and taste changes. But for now, peace of mind will come from having an effective will. What do you like? What have you liked to get where you are? Did you go to school, have you connections anywhere? That can tell you where to place bequests. I'm turning 28 and travel a good bit. I'm in a position to control some money. If I crash out of the sky today I'd like to know my wishes to have the money do some good would be carried out. If something happens before my life changes or the actuaries think, I'm comfortable knowing I've a will. My father encouraged and helped me and I enjoyed my schooling so I've set up a scholarship there in our names. I support animal rescue, a reading room at a local library because it reminds me of my grandmother's house, a ladies society maintaining endangered elm trees and roses planted at the railroad station, a computer program for young children at another library. Personal things, yes, but the bequests can Do Good. I feel I understand your feelings about family and friends; I do not like to give men money, I feel it makes them weak. But giving money to programs to help people, well that's a different thing. A special interest you have might well appreciate support. Wouldn't you be happy knowing your money was with them? Instead of a bulk sum to a suspect charity you've no affection for one way or another, consider making several small bequests in your new will. Anything you feel close to … for now, consider them, support them.
R49, I swear it is true. The giftee and I both worked at a San Francisco restaurant and we were friends.
He had been renting a room from this older guy who was into railroads.
I took care of his cats sometimes.
When the older guy died, he left a pretty darn good Victorian 3 blocks from the Castro to my friend. We were approaching 30 years old and we were blown away.
I think the older guy wanted to keep the Castro gay and to benefit a gay man. Great expections, indeed.
Not sure if this would interest you but there are two gay youth homeless centers that I know of that do really good work.
The Ali Fortney Center in NYC that was heavily damaged in hurricane Sandy and The Ozone House in Ann Arbor Michigan.
A very large number of homeless youth are gay, they are often harassed in regular homeless centers.
Just something for your consideration.
As R39 said, very politely, if you have any interests or passions, you should direct your money there. If you have no interests or passions, give your money to someone who does.
But why the hell are you stockpiling an average worker's lifetime salary and then bitching that you have to figure out how to allocate it, as if you have no idea how you even earned it? As if, in the process of procuring wealth, you never considered the implications of wealth?
Not to sound like a flake, but it sounds like you have the elements for a great ghost story there: old Victorian home, benign stranger, railroads, sudden death.
You must have had some great shindigs.
R56, why thank you.
I usually try to help young people who remind me of myself. In life, I received several breaks - jobs offers and scholarships - that allowed me to pay for college and escape my hometown and live a fulfilling life.
When I die, if my extended family is financially secure, I'd like to establish some type of college scholarship for kids from my home county so they can have the same chances I did.
Not sure if that appeals to you, OP, but just wanted to share my thoughts.
Please don’t give to Gates and other big organizations, Gates is evil and many spend the money on themselves.
Lots of public schools (not charters) need money. Create scholarships for colleges or summer programs. Arts and music programs need money. A zoo, a garden...things that get cut when budgets are bad.
I’m sure there are things you love and you can make it better.
I get you OP. I was in a 15 year relationship, until recently, when my partner broke up with me. The relationship had definitely deteriorated, but still, we were devoted to each other. When he called it a day, I thought nothing would change, re my will. We own several properties together, he has 2 on his own,(inherited) and I own a vacation home outright, I inherited. We never really blended our cash, but each of us has plenty. We are still friends, but now I'm thinking, why will I leave all my holdings to him ? He has enough. Many of our friends are not as fortunate, and could really use a big financial
lift. I'm in a quandary. I'm very skeptical of most charities I research, as I'm sick of seeing out of every dollar donated, 10 -15 cents actually goes to the cause. I'm debating about the Paul Newman founded Hole In The Wall Camp, for children with cancer, PETA, and others.
Have you considered The Gia Giudice Foundation?
Hell is having more than enough to share.
One of my favorite charities is "Common Ground." They are responsible for taking historic, but falling down, hotels and turning them into living spaces for disabled people and others in need. They also arrange housing for people who are aging out of adoption and have nowhere to go. They do good work and it's a solid charity.
[quote]Contact me. For 2.5 million Ill be your gay male homosexual lover
Before you take R15 on his offer, consider someone more literate.
Same sitiuation for me, OP. But I am going to leave my money to Farm Sanctuary, Mercy for Animals, Sea Shepherd and other organizations that help animals. They really need the money. Animals don't leave other animals anything in their wills.
My charity is my local food bank. That's a no brainer for me, since everyone has to eat and it's not affiliated with any religion. Just my two cents in case it's something you want to consider.
Consider R8's advice.
I'd be careful about which charity I'd give money to. Some spend it so inefficiently, only pennies on the dollar might actually reach the intended beneficiaries. I'd give to charities I've seen in action, not just ones with big names. I'd also bump up the amount given to nieces and nephews, you can require that it is used only for certain things or after completing a set amount of volunteer work.
I think you should take this quandary and turn it into even more money to help others. Create your own charity, of which you have control, and hire a good fundraiser. Then, since you control it, you know money is going to help that and those that matter to you. Get it started now while you're able, so you can watch it grow and feel content by the end of your life that your money is spent in a way that feels good to you. For those of us who need control in life, this is the only way we can be sure. You can greatly extend the help you have to offer by raising more funds toward a project, or series of projects, that mean something to you.
How about something for sustainability? Or for gay youth getting a leg up in life? Or something that could really make a difference?
[quote] Create your own charity, of which you have control, and hire a good fundraiser.
2.5 million is not enough for what you have in mind. Part of that estate includes the house he's living in and his other assets that he's currently using.
I knew an old lady that started a Jewish community non-profit in her small town. She and a few of her friends threw in a few thousand--it totaled 12k, I think--and they had a half-dozen really worthwhile programs: gift baskets for elderly Jewish people for the holidays, pairing up old people who needed rides to the grocery store with younger people who were available, stuff like that.