Plan Now, Give Later

A look at three local philanthropists who used estate planning to support the good work of nonprofits in perpetuity

By Dotty Weston-Murphy, CAP® / October 20, 2017

During this special time known as National Estate Planning Awareness Week, we salute those in our community who support good works through their estate plans, and the professional advisors who assist them.

People like Birgitta Johnson (top left). A retired banker, Birgitta was deeply committed to this community. Among her varied interests, she served as a long-time volunteer leader at Fellowship Place and a docent at the Grove Street Cemetery. A lifelong belief in the importance of advancing women and girls led Birgitta to designate The Community Fund for Women & Girls as a beneficiary of assets from her retirement funds. The Birgitta W. Johnson Fund now supports women and girls forever.

And Dr. Joseph Stevens (2nd in from left), who came to New Haven in 1966 as a fellow at the John B. Pearce Laboratory and a research associate and lecturer in psychology at Yale. A supporter of organizations that make New Haven remarkable in his lifetime, Joe designated his retirement funds to support historic preservation, hospice care and basic needs.

And Russell and Lucie Atwater (Far right). Russell was a highly-regarded real estate attorney with a passion for public service. While practicing law at Clark, Hall & Peck, Russell's work supported the rapid expansion of residential and commercial real estate in the post-war years, including the Chapel Square development. He served on New Haven's Board of Alderman, the Ethics Committee and a Charter Revision Committee. A veteran of World War II, he was also an active member of Kiwanis Club. Upon Lucie's death in 2007, their estate created the Russell H. and Lucie E. Atwater Fund for "public charitable and educational uses, absolutely and forever."

When you are planful with your estate plan, you are leaving a gift and peace of mind to your heirs and, if you so choose, your community. You may find this article by AARP outlining 10 Things You Should Know About Writing a Will useful in your planning.

More information about legacy planning for your family and your community is available on The Community Foundation's website or by contacting us.