In a 2018 Wall Street Journal article entitled, “It’s Time to Rethink the Meaning of Estate Plans,” Glenn Ruffenach suggests that a good estate plan deals with your aspirations while you are still living as well as the legacy you wish to leave behind.  He encourages people to think about what difference they can make through their estate.

What if we viewed estate planning as more than deciding who gets what after we are gone?  Would the process be more fulfilling if we thought about what we want to do with our talents and resources during the time we have left?  By reimagining estate planning, we create the opportunity to pass on our values as well as our possessions.

As a gift planning professional, I am fortunate to encounter people who are finding meaning through their giving.  They focus beyond self and family and look for ways to impact others by example and generosity.  I have been privileged to be a part of a process that can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling actions of a person’s life.

Times of Transition

Transition in our lives can become an ideal time for developing an estate plan.  Whether the death of a spouse, the birth of a grandchild, retirement or illness, there are events that provide an opportunity to plan.  Times of transition can be time for introspection, a time to ask questions like, “How can I make the world a better place? How can I improve the lives of others?  Along with my family, what causes, issues and institutions do I want to support?”

Finding Your Charitable Home

Philip Cubeta, the Sallie B. and William B. Wallace Chair in Philanthropy at The American College of Financial Services, in an address to donors and advisors at Southwestern Medical Foundation, offered a baseball analogy to think about estate planning.  The estate planning process involves “rounding the bases”, reaching each base by answering key questions about self, family and charity. 

First base begins with assessing our own financial security. “Do I have enough to live on for the rest of my life?  Will my spouse if I die first?” 

Once we have satisfied this concern we move to second base by looking at our children and other possible heirs and asking, “How much do I want to give them? Do they need it? How much is enough? What do I hope they will do with their inheritance?” 

After deciding on how much to give to heirs, the amount left over becomes the source of my charitable giving and an opportunity to impact my community and the world.  Third base is that point where you look for your charitable home, a place where along with family you are most comfortable, a place that most closely aligns with your passions and values.

Finding those charitable causes that reflect our values and where we can make the most impact, both in our lifetimes and when we are gone, allows us to touch home.

Read more about the four bases of charitable estate planning.

 The Role of Charitable Estate Planning in Completing our Life Story

Charitable estate planning allows our values to live on after we are gone.  Southwestern Medical Foundation and UT Southwestern are honored to be the charitable home for many people.  Motivated by the passion to improve the quality of life for others and alleviate human suffering, people have experienced the joy of giving by supporting our mission to advance medical research, educate future generations of health care providers and give compassionate care to those in need.

Give Us a Call to Start the Charitable Planning Conversation

If you would like to know more about how you can be a part of the family of donors who have remembered Southwestern Medical Foundation and UT Southwestern in their estate plans, please give us a call.  We would be happy to talk by phone, exchange email or set up a time to have a video chat.

This information is not intended as tax, legal or financial advice.  Consult your financial advisor for information specific to your situation.

About the Author

Randal Daugherty headshotSince 2000, Randy has served as Director of Planned Giving for Southwestern Medical Foundation and UT Southwestern Medical Center.  He works with donors to suggest bequest language to share with attorneys, establish charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts, utilize beneficiary designations for retirement plan accounts and explore gifts of other non-cash assets like real estate and life insurance.  After receiving a Masters of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University, Randy began a career in development, working in higher education, the arts and in academic medicine.  He received the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy designation (CAP) through the American College of Financial Services.

To contact Randy Daugherty, please call (214) 648-3069 or email him at