June 1, 2004
Giving While You’re Living
When Brenda Brandle, a cafeteria manager in the Los Angeles Unified School District, decided to straighten out her finances in 1999, she knew she had her work cut out for her. Besides needing to reduce her debt and provide for her retirement, Brandle, who has never married and has no children, was determined to help her 16 nieces and nephews start out on the path to financial security. In pursuit of this goal, she had been exploring ways to invest her money on their behalf. But she realized early on that she needed help.
Attending a financial seminar given by George B. Thompson, a Church of God in Christ minister and Smith Barney financial adviser, Brandle responded enthusiastically to his message about the importance of attaining financial independence. “I called him up a few days later to talk, because I felt he could help me reach my goals,” she recalls. Shortly thereafter, the two developed a plan, which Brandle began implementing immediately.
“When I went to her house she had jugs filled with $8,000 in coins, $95,000 in inherited funds, and a 403(b) from her job,” Thompson says. “We sat down and discussed her goals and the best way for her to accomplish them.”
Thompson, author of Millionaires in Training (Prosperity Publishing; $12.95) devised an investment plan that would allow Brandle to reap immediate results while working on her long-term goals. “Our major objectives were to reduce her debt, invest to grow [principle], save for retirement, and set up a living trust,” he says.
After conversations with Thompson, Brandle realized that she could make a living trust a crucial element of her estate planning:
According to the terms of the trust, her nieces and nephews would receive a specified amount of interest on their birthdays; their spouses, however, would receive nothing. “If my nieces and nephews die without ever having had children, the funds will be donated to deserving students at historically black colleges, on the condition that the recipients also help someone else,” she explains.
By establishing the living trust for her nieces and nephews, Brandle demonstrates an innovative way to exercise DOFE Principle No. 10: to ensure that my wealth is passed on to future generations. “I liked the living trust idea a lot,” she says. “A living trust goes by what I specifically want and is more feasible for what I want to accomplish.”
Brandle’s commitment to pass along her wealth to her nieces and nephews reflects a family tradition. She benefited from property she received from her parents. “My parents invested and taught us how to do the same, and my siblings have all invested as well,” she says. Brandle sees investing for her nieces’ and nephews’ benefit a logical, natural step. “I have no kids of my own, and according to the Bible, a good parent should provide for the generations. Since I’m not a parent, I want to provide for my nieces and nephews. Plus, I’m still keeping my investments in the family,” she declares.
Thompson is pleased that Brandle embraced