Several years ago it occurred to me that there might be fewer years ahead than there had been behind me, and I decided to plan for how I might pay back some institutions and organizations that had been formative, instructive, and beneficial to me over the past 35 years or so. In our household we have always supported annual contributions and memberships to museums, food banks, literacy programs, and public radio and television but now I wanted to provide for more substantial contributions to the professional associations that have meant so much to my career and to the museum field as a whole.
Given the volatility of three out of four of our personal estate plans (real estate, savings and investments, and collections of Native American and Hispanic art) and other personal and family factors, the easiest way to do this was by designating WMA and a few others as beneficiaries of a percentage of an existing life insurance policy. It was simple to arrange with the insurance carrier, who sent a form that I endorsed with WMA to receive a modest five-figure gift when I “tip over” (life insurance lingo for die). There will be no probate to clear, no lawyers involved, and a simple check written to WMA, assuming that the mailing address has not changed too many times in between.
Although I am not in a hurry to shuffle off, it is my hope that when that day arrives I can also “pay it forward” by WMA using my gift to continue its encouragement of young professionals who will be the lifeblood of the museum field in the future.
I am personally encouraged by the present efforts of the WMA board to stabilize and sustain the organization, and still have the confidence in its long-term future to maintain the gift as planned. Colleagues, it is so easy to give in this way that I urge you to consider a planned gift of some kind to the Western Museums Association as part of your personal estate planning – to pay it back and forward at the same time.