As young parents in their early 30s, Joshua and Jillian Feldman assumed that planning a legacy gift would be premature, if not impossible. However, when they learned about the flexibility and long-term impact of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation's Life & Legacy program, they soon discovered creative options for a legacy gift that wouldn't put a strain on their family's finances in the short term. Below the Feldmans explain how they decided to give, and how the Life & Legacy program helps young families like theirs plan realistic gifts for the organizations they love.
Joshua Feldman is a matrimonial and family lawyer with the Hartford-based firm Ruel Ruel Burns & Britt. A Wexler Fellow, Joshua also serves as treasurer of the Mandell JCC’s board of directors and on committees for the Jewish Community Foundation and Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. Jillian Feldman is a talent strategist at Prudential Financial who also donates her time to many local Jewish organizations, including Jewish Family Services and the JCC's JNext program – a group the Feldmans helped establish for philanthropists under 45. Joshua and Jillian live in West Hartford with their two children, Emma and Arielle.
As young people, what inspired you to think now about legacy giving?
Joshua: Through my involvement with the JCC, I had the opportunity to serve on their Life & Legacy committee, where I first encountered the program. Jillian and I knew immediately that we wanted to join the program but had to figure out how we could participate considering the needs of our young family. We realized that giving via a retirement plan allowed us to participate in the program without having to set aside funds now. It was important for us to be a part of this program so that we could help sustain the future of the Jewish community.
Jillian: We give back to the community now however we can, but we also wanted to make sure that our support continues and grows when we're not here — even though we hope that's many years down the road!
What were some of your considerations as you thought about making a legacy gift?
Jillian: We have two young children, so it was about finding a balance in maintaining our legacy to our children and supporting the organizations we care about.
Joshua: The biggest consideration was deciding which giving method was right for us. We determined that by giving through our retirement accounts, our contribution will grow as the accounts grow — so, at the point when our gift is realized, we hope we'll be able to give back in a way that reflects how much the community has given to us over the course of our lifetimes.
Part of the appeal of the Life & Legacy program is that you can choose multiple local organizations to which you want to give. Why did you choose Federation as a recipient?
Joshua: Federation has an important role in our community. Although it can be harder to see the role they fill in the community because there's not a building you regularly walk into like the JCC, we know that Federation makes a large impact by helping many organizations throughout the entire community. Our decision to give to Federation is an acknowledgment of all they do in our community, and it supported our desire to give to more than one Jewish organization.
How does your planned gift reflect what it means to you to be Jewish?
Joshua: We feel that giving back is a core Jewish value and an important way for us to support a community that has made a tremendous impact in our lives. The idea that our gift will continue to have an impact after we're gone allows us to help support the future generation of the Jewish community.
Jillian: We often discuss the model we're trying to set for our children, both through our physical involvement and through financial gifts. They're growing up in a world that can be difficult, but they're also going to get a lot of blessings because of the circumstances they were born into. We always want to show them that when you have these blessings, it's so important that you give back to others.
What would you say to other young people for whom planned giving may not yet be on their radar?
Jillian: Honestly, it wasn't on our radar either, until we heard about Life & Legacy. We figured we were too young for that — but Life & Legacy introduced us to the idea that we could make a pledge now and the financial impact would be felt in the future. This idea helped us understand that this could actually work for us.
Joshua: When you think about planned giving, you usually think of funding a trust. But through the Life & Legacy program, we learned that there are many ways to give that you won't feel in your day-to-day life. Also, your gift is modifiable. You can set up a gift through your retirement account now, but change it down the road to a life insurance policy if that works better for your family at that time. At the end of the day, the goal is to establish a legacy commitment that is within your reach and that you can feel really good about.
Life & Legacy is a creative, multi-organization giving program administered locally by the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford. To learn how a Life & Legacy gift to Federation might be right for you and your family, click here or email Hayley Wasser, Federation’s vice president of development.
Photo: Joshua and Jillian Feldman and their daughters, Emma and Arielle. Image courtesy of the Feldman family.