In every human heart, there exists a desire to leave some sort of legacy after we’ve gone – something that lends credence to the belief that what we believed and what we did mattered. Something that will live on after us and continue to matter to others.
Such was the case for Joan Landi. A retired Goldman Sachs employee working in downtown Chicago, Joan eventually moved to Hampshire, a village of about 6,000. Her house was full of music and poetry – most of it her own. In addition to her work at Goldman Sachs, she was a songwriter who once collaborated with singer-songwriter and fellow Chicago-Italian native, Frankie Laine.
But chief among Joan’s passions was giving to her favorite charitable causes – including therapy and rescue animals, homeless populations, and at-risk children. In fact, she typically spent more on others than she did on herself.
By 2005, Joan had outlived many of her family members. She then sought to examine and make some changes to the family trust to determine how her assets could best benefit others. She consulted with her attorney, along with Nick Latko, a wealth advisor at Clear Perspective Advisors.
As Nick began to work with Joan to ensure her charitable wishes were fulfilled, he was especially struck by her giving spirit, as well as her need for company and care. Shortly thereafter Joan’s brother and only nearby relative passed away, and Nick saw to it that Joan had the resources she needed. He even went so far as to ensure that those providing her 24-hour home care had her best interests at heart. Someone who had given so much thought to the needs of others, he believed, should be treated with the same level of care and concern.
“I had her back, one hundred percent,” Nick said. “I was probably more involved than anyone would be in my position, but I couldn’t help it.”
Joan’s physical condition meant she could not travel easily. Her adult daughter, Pam, lived in Minnesota; by the time Nick began helping Joan with her estate, she and Pam had not seen each other for several years.
Nick had an idea. During his next visit to see Joan, he organized a Facetime call on his computer and coordinated with Pam so the two could see each other – Joan from her home and Pam from her hospital bed. It would turn out to be a much more meaningful gesture than Nick realized.
“I remember we made the call on a Monday, and Pam wasn’t doing well,” Nick recalls. “Twenty minutes after I left her house, Joan called me to say that Pam had passed.”
Perhaps it was this moment in time that bolstered Joan’s desire to leave a legacy in the community after her own passing. When meeting with Joan and her attorney to make adjustments to the Joan Landi trust, Nick suggested two options for her charitable contributions from the trust.
“I suggested, ‘You could give more to charity and increase those amounts, or – and this could be more impactful for a longer amount of time – carry on your legacy permanently through the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley (CFFRV),” Nick said. “She had never heard of the CFFRV, but she really liked [the latter] idea.”
Establishing an endowment with the CFFRV allows individuals to give back to the community in their name for perpetuity. For someone like Joan, who endorsed a bevy of charities, but had few family members to leave fixed amounts of money, one gift can grow over time and continue to provide for those charities on an annual basis.
“That was the big appeal for her, that her name could be attached to it and she could give something every year – forever,” Nick said.
Eventually, the Joan Landi Endowment Fund was established with the CFFRV with the intent of supporting Joan’s chosen charities. By the time Joan passed away in 2020, Nick had worked with her for 15 years and had become a trusted, treasured friend – one who saw her passion for giving and helped to amplify her impact.
Joan’s legacy continues on in the community thanks to her abundant generosity. If you or someone you know wishes to leave a permanent charitable legacy, an endowment may be an excellent fit. If you’re a professional advisor looking to speak to a client about their long-term charitable giving options, we would love to connect with you as well. Please contact Julie Christman, President & CEO, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 331-208-9428 to discuss next steps with us.