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Take Care of Yourself First

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by Bill Hurd '61

Are you taking care of yourself? As life progresses, I hope you are finding the right balance for you between your family needs, your recreation, your charitable giving, and saving for retirement. Saving for retirement is key both for you and for your family. I don’t think that anyone wants to become dependent on their children. Probably the best legacy you can leave your children is your love. I encourage you to consider writing a legacy letter to your children, expressing your love and perhaps recounting some things that have been memorable in your life, and what in their lives has been memorable to you. You might like to include stories and digitized pictures of ancestors and other family members, and perhaps pictures of heirlooms and homes. Information on the immigration of your family to America would really be helpful if someone wants to do family genealogy.

But let’s go back to saving. If you have provided for yourself in retirement, you probably also need to do some estate planning. For many of us, the largest parts of our savings are in our homes and in qualified retirement accounts, such as IRAs and 401k’s. Some of us are fortunate enough to have other savings and investments. But the tax rules today encourage people to put as much as possible into retirement accounts.

In estate planning, let’s consider first your home. If you have more than one child, who gets the home? If you have only one child, does he or she want to live in your home? Chances are that your children already have their own homes and don’t want to live in yours. Most likely your home will be sold as the estate is settled, and the proceeds will be shared or distributed according to your plan. The situation is similar for retirement accounts. These will probably be divided among heirs.

Since your estate will almost certainly be divided into shares, I invite you to join the Annie Clarkson Society, and leave a share to Clarkson. Clarkson will greatly appreciate any bequest, however large or small. And, to become a member of the Annie Clarkson Society, you don’t even have to tell Clarkson the amount of the planned gift – just that you are planning something. It is especially easy to leave a share of a retirement account – you just make Clarkson a beneficiary.

I know someone who wanted to give to his church. He was cash poor, but had a valuable home. He left the home to his only child, who immediately sold it. Giving a small percentage to charity would have been inconsequential to the son.

I know people who say “I’d love to give to Clarkson, but I have to take care of my twelve grandchildren”. Why not pretend that there is one more grandchild, and leave that share to Clarkson? Or half a share?

Finally, I hope you are taking care of yourself first. You owe this to yourself and your family. But if you are reading this, chances are that you consider Clarkson to have played an important part in your life. I invite you to thank Clarkson by joining the Annie Clarkson Society with a planned gift that is comfortable to you.

Read Bill's article, "Family First with a Charitable Trust"                         
Read Bill's article, "Trust Your Children or Trust a Trust"  
Read Bill's article, "Retirement Income for Financial Conservatives"     
Read Bill's article, "A Charitable Trust Might be for You"
Read Bill's article, "Charitable Giving May Be Easier Than You Think"
Read Bill's article, "Do You Have a Tax Problem?"
Read Bill's article, "Why and How we Give to Clarkson"

Footnote: Bill Hurd passed away in 2016.  This article is published in thanks and admiration to a loyal Clarkson alumnus.

(rev. 12/2016)