Everyone who is charitably inclined has only the best intentions when making a gift to his or her favorite charity, yes? However, depending on the nature of the charitable gift, your benevolence may actually cause the charity more harm than good. This is true even when their charitable gift is a part of nature itself.
[Spoiler alert: Good intentions are not necessarily all it takes when seeking to do the most good.]
As discussed in a recent Guardian article titled “Smithsonian Museum is bugging out over insect inheritance,” most museums across the globe really only start out and build their vast collections through the largesse of charitable donors.
And the Smithsonian is no stranger to gifts of the strangest collections, with the most peculiar needs, and even with various limiting conditions.
Unfortunately, the bug collection gift of entomologist Carl J Drake is beginning to bug the museum - which is petitioning the courts in an attempt to modify the gift.
Drake left his vast collection of preserved specimen (dead bugs) to the museum through his last will with various rules attached to protect the collection and ensure its preservation.
In addition, on top of that, he left his entire fortune to the museum with the express purpose of purchasing new bug collections. Since the original gift was made, legal changes have made it difficult to buy bug collections. Consequently, the money sits and, moreover, the rules regarding the existing collection are as onerous as they are dated.
When all said and done, the original gift cuts against the museum’s own ability to effectively manage the collection.
Drake really loved his bugs and he really thought hard about ensuring his collection would live on. It certainly is a motivation we can all appreciate – even the squeamish – and we can also appreciate the amount of planning he did to make the gift.
This case illustrates both what you can do intentionally right and what you can do unintentionally wrong. Accordingly, the case is instructive on several levels and I would recommend reading the original article.
If you have a very specific gift to make there is much to do and think about. With the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney in advance you can ensure the success of your gift for generations to come.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri) and to download free tools to help you organize your estate, visit my estate planning website.
Reference: The Guardian (June 12, 2014) “Smithsonian Museum is bugging out over insect inheritance”