Collection plate[See our Disclaimers page about relying on this website’s contents.]

As our local schools reopen consider this wish list:

new band instruments and industrial arts resources for our schools;

  • new audio equipment and nursery facilities for local church congregations;
  • enhanced pediatric resources for our hospitals; and
  • improved family recreation resources in our parks.

Your local schools, churches, hospitals and other community institutions have these wish lists. Unfortunately, government dollars are scarce and the wish list items are not getting cheaper. We can look beyond our communities for help from government and public foundations, but we should also consider how we could help ourselves. Charitable planning is a great way to help ourselves.

Much of our community’s charitable energy has focused on academic scholarships. Scholarships serve noble functions, but simple economics limit scholarships’ usefulness to the community.

The Indiana State University website indicates that it costs $17,380 per year to pay for a full-time student’s tuition, room, and board for the 2015-16 school year. The website says textbook costs can run as high as $800-$1,200 per year. Therefore, a scholarship would need to generate income of almost $20,000 per year to send one student to a state-supported college and cover all of these expenses for one school year. If you expect a scholarship fund to earn 3% per year (3-year CD rates in August 2015 are about 1.5%), the fund would need to have more than $625,000 invested in order to generate income of $20,000 per year.

Scholarships serve great purposes in society, but they drain money from our community permanently. A student may appreciate a scholarship, but he or she will probably not move back home and support the community. Instead, the student will probably take that valuable education to some other community and the student’s home community will have lost the benefit of its scholarship investment forever.

Our community can invest more wisely. If our community could invest that same $625,000 in an educational foundation for the benefit of a local school corporation, the school corporation could pay for new computers, band instruments, or extracurricular programs for its students each year for the foreseeable future. That kind of investment in a school would benefit many students for years to come and enrich our community permanently.

Many church goers understand that a 10% weekly tithe of their income in a collection plate is a common way to support a church. Just imagine things that our community could accomplish if everyone’s will or trust allocated 10% or more of the estate to pass to a charitable foundation after his death! If 10 people would each leave a 10% gift to a charitable foundation, and if each person’s estate would contain a house and money worth $100,000 or more, the charity would enjoy a $100,000 benefit! Ask a school superintendent that kind of money could do for our children in a properly established educational foundation.

At least two things are certain in life: we will all die someday and none of us can take our wealth with us. Every investment in our community helps and each of us can play a big part. Let’s look forward to a great future together as a community that helps itself.

Jeff R. Hawkins and Jennifer J. Hawkins are Trust & Estate Specialty Board Certified Indiana Trust & Estate Lawyers and active members of the Indiana State Bar Association and National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Both lawyers are admitted to practice law in Indiana, and Jeff Hawkins is admitted to practice law in Illinois. Jeff is also a registered civil mediator, a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the Indiana Bar Foundation;  a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Indiana Association of Mediators; and he was the 2014-15 President of the Indiana State Bar Association.

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