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Akron Couple Creates Lasting Legacy Through Estate Plans

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Jennifer Lile | Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths & Dougherty Co. LPA

Amid the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, many clients are relying on their trusted advisors for peace of mind about the future. Creating a sound estate plan can help clients feel confident that their assets will be taken care of both now and after their lifetime.

"They can know that no matter what happens, these arrangements are in place," said Jennifer Lile, an attorney at Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths & Dougherty Co. LPA.

Although Jennifer has worked with many estate planning clients over the last two years, one couple stands out.

Akron natives Chris and Tracy approached Jennifer with a unique situation. As two only children with no children of their own, the couple wanted Jennifer’s help to build an estate plan that would allow them to support their favorite causes in perpetuity.

"We wanted to create a legacy that would live on after us," Tracy said.

Jennifer immediately thought of a donor-advised fund, which would maximize her clients' charitable impact while reducing their tax burden.

"One important aspect of estate planning is avoiding probate and directing assets to charitable beneficiaries in a tax-efficient way," she said. "Donor-advised funds are a fantastic tool for that."

Jennifer noted that other options, such as private foundations, are often "more cumbersome, time consuming and expensive."

As an engineer and accountant by trade, Chris and Tracy wanted to thoroughly research Jennifer’s recommendation before making a decision.

After weighing their options – including establishing a donor-advised fund at a commercial brokerage institution – Chris and Tracy landed on Akron Community Foundation.

"Chris and I talked about other options, but at the end of the day, we really wanted to keep our money local and help organizations here in Summit County and the surrounding area," Tracy said. "We really feel like we made a good decision."

Jennifer added that the foundation’s strong ties to the community and its ability to help her clients create a lasting legacy were especially appealing.

"National donor-advised fund providers don’t have the same local connection; their focus is on the investment side," Jennifer said. "That’s all well and good, but when you can marry both – good investment expertise and the local heart-of-the-community approach – that’s really attractive."

With Jennifer’s help, Chris and Tracy officially established their donor-advised fund at Akron Community Foundation in September 2021. Although the couple plans to continue growing their fund over time, the majority of their giving will take place through their estate.

After they have both passed, the assets from the couple’s donor-advised fund will be used to create two field-of-interest funds at Akron Community Foundation that will support music enrichment and animal welfare programs in their names forever.


Did You Know?

With a field-of-interest fund, donors can choose a specific focus area – such as children’s literacy or the environment – and Akron Community Foundation will award grants in their fund’s name to the most promising program in the donor’s chosen field. It's an excellent way to move the needle on a pressing issue in our community, now and after they are gone.


One of Chris and Tracy's funds will support music enrichment programs in Greater Akron.

As self-proclaimed animal lovers with a long history of rescuing pets from local shelters, Chris and Tracy knew they wanted to continue to support animal charities with their fund.

"There are a lot of animals out there that need help and not a lot of help for them," Chris said. "We thought it would be nice to give back to the local shelters, especially the no-kill shelters."

Chris, who has a side career as a singer-songwriter and guitarist, also wanted to pass on his love of music to future generations by supporting music enrichment programs in Greater Akron. For example, Chris said, grants from the fund could benefit music therapy programs for veterans or support music education programming at Akron Public Schools.

Both Chris and Tracy credit Jennifer for helping them find a solution that meets both their charitable and financial goals. As an attorney, Jennifer said she always makes a point to ask her clients if they have charitable intentions during their planning conversations.

"So many people have significant assets in pre-tax retirement accounts, and including charity in their estate plans is a great way to make sure more of their money goes to what they care about, rather than to Uncle Sam," Jennifer said.

In the case of Chris and Tracy, that means giving back to the community that has given them so much.

"We’re Akron people. We both went to Akron Public Schools and attended the University of Akron," Chris said. "This is our home, so this is where we wanted to give back."

Thanks to Jennifer’s advice, the couple will be able to continue supporting the community they love for decades to come.

"In 100 years, our funds will still be helping the community," Tracy said. "Our name will live on and people will know we were here."

To learn more about charitable estate planning options, contact Laura Lederer, senior director of development and advisor relations, at 330-436-5611 or llederer@akroncf.org. We’re always available to answer your questions about philanthropy or to schedule a personal consultation with you and your clients – all at no cost.

Additional Resources

This content is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice.

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