Estate bequests

Living on by helping others in perpetuity.

By Ret Boney

During her lifetime, Lucille Giles had been an occasional supporter of the Foundation for the Carolinas in Charlotte, N.C.

Giles, whose family founded Caraustar, a successful recycled packaging products company headquartered in Austell, Ga., had donated millions to charity during her lifetime, and had been active in supporting the foundation’s efforts to improve early-childhood education and care.

But her greatest contribution to the community came after her death in 1995, in a bequest of $35 million to the foundation, with the only restriction being that the money benefit the citizens of Mecklenburg County.

“That’s our largest unrestricted fund by far,” says Bart Landess, senior vice president for planned giving at the foundation. “We’ve made $10 million in grants since it came in, and we still have $35 million.”

Those grants have supported a variety of community efforts, including a bilingual preschool that accepts both Spanish- and English-speaking children and teaches both languages, a project Landess says Giles would have liked.

Not only does Giles’ bequest provide funds to improve the community she cared about, says Landess, it also shields the amount of the bequest from estate taxes that could have exceeded 50 percent.

The simplest form of planned giving, a bequest is carried out by leaving a specified amount, a percentage of the remainder of an estate, or a percentage of an asset such as stock or land, in a will to a charitable organization.

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