Whether you’re worried about the future of your child with special needs, or your own or another’s stressful situation, Darwin Trust can provide sound advice and a helping hand. This series of client stories is designed to help you better understand our approach, process, solutions and results so that you can make an informed decision about your future.
Looking out for Hannah
Someone was looking out for Hannah, a single mom to two children with autism. And that someone was her father.
Luckily for Hannah and her kids, her father and grandfather were great with finances. They had not only run a very successful business but also set up two trusts following her divorce. One trust was for her benefit, the other for the benefit of her two children.
Then Hannah’s father passed away. Upon his death, she inherited the family home, also in trust, along with the new worries of figuring out her finances.
Hannah was overwhelmed. She had little knowledge of money management – let alone what a trust even was – and she was struggling with what to do with the inherited house. She didn’t know whether to sell it or expand it to better suit her and her children’s needs.
We at Darwin Trust met with Hannah shortly after her Dad’s death to help guide her through what she called her “money maze.”
We started with the basics, walking her through what she owned and why, including why her father had set up the trusts. We explained how trusts work and the role of a trustee.
We then talked about the different options she could explore with the house. We decided to look into both adding onto the house and selling it. On Hannah’s behalf, we contacted an architect to get pricing on drawing up plans. We also reached out to a real estate professional to provide a cost/benefit analysis of an addition versus a sale and new purchase.
Our holistic approach of looking at Hannah’s big-picture situation and managing the details of her finances provided her with the understanding, the support and the confidence to get her house (financial and otherwise) in order.
Now we’re the someone looking out for Hannah.
We helped guide Hannah through her “money maze.”
Joseph was grateful we were looking at his situation holistically.
Change Is Good
Joseph wasn’t one for change. He’d lived in the same house since he was born, and he worked at the same company for over 40 years.
But, at age 70, Joseph knew he’d soon need to make a move. He recognized he’d have to leave his home – along with all its maintenance demands – for a place where someone could “check up on me” regularly and “step up care when I need it.”
Joseph had a sizable retirement account, and he wanted to make sure it was protected as he aged. He also knew he needed to make decisions about where to leave his legacy, since he had no children or siblings.
When Joseph met with us – including our office dog, Darwin – we understood that he needed to take things slow and steady. We offered him a cup of coffee, and over the course of a few meetings, one at his home, we had the pleasure of getting to know him. We learned about his hopes and dreams, needs and challenges.
And Joseph had the pleasure of learning, among other things, all about trusts and how they could help protect his assets now and into the future.
Over several months, we helped Joseph clarify and organize his legacy through legal assistance, estate planning and trust services. We also worked through a financial plan to help better manage his wealth. Grateful we were looking at his situation holistically, he worked with a placement assistance service we recommended to help him find an independent living facility with assisted options as well as a real estate broker to oversee selling his home.
Although change did not come naturally to Joseph, he made changes for the better for his life and his legacy.
Putting Finances on the Front Burner
Mary was always cooking up a storm. In the restaurant business all her life, she knew how to make a mean gravy, which her husband, John, and their three children always loved. The family finances, however, had always been put on the back burner – a recipe for disaster now that John was very ill.
Her focus now on John, Mary did not have time to worry about the estate. However, she knew she had to get the family affairs in order.
With her children unable to help with the finances, Mary turned to Darwin Trust. When we visited her at her home, Mary was overwhelmed with paperwork and had little understanding of what she and her husband owned. Reassuring her that she was not alone, we talked through her concerns and her goals. We left with a grocery bag full of documents, and also hoped we had left Mary with some peace of mind.
Once we understood Mary’s wishes and went through the papers, we created an asset inventory. We explained that all the assets were in her husband’s name, and for her to have access, she needed to reregister them in the name of a trust. We also helped her consolidate the accounts so that they would be easier to manage. We created an investment strategy to provide her with monthly income to live comfortably and an estate plan to provide a legacy for her children.
With her finances now on the front burner, Mary could focus fully on John, and on good days cook up some pasta and gravy.