Charitable Remainder Unitrusts--Charlotte Lutton
Charlotte Lutton persevered through a tragic loss that had a profound impact on both her personal and professional life.
Soon after Charlotte married Clyde Lutton '66 they founded The Events Organization, an event planning and corporate communications business. "When Clyde and I started the business—and this carried through to most areas of our life—we each focused on our strengths. I handled the front-end of the business. Clyde handled more of the operational aspects, including finance, which he had a gift for. Generally speaking, I brought the money in and Clyde made the money work," says Charlotte. With determination and dedication, they devoted all their time, energy, and money to their business. Since time and financial resources were limited by the demands of operating and growing their business, hobbies such as golf for Clyde and riding for Charlotte were soon abandoned.
When Clyde died in 1999, Charlotte lost more than a loving husband; she lost her business partner and financial administrator. Charlotte, like so many other women who lose their spouses, found herself faced with many decisions and alone. "In keeping with our pattern of focusing on our strengths, Clyde generally took care of the finances. I rarely dealt with them," says Charlotte. She explained, "I got married two months out of college and always put my earnings into our joint funds. These were usually managed by Clyde."
"Only in the last week of Clyde's life did he walk me through the accounts he maintained for us. It was so much to absorb at a time when his health and comfort were my focus. I wasn't even sure of the ATM password, since my 'walking around money' usually came out of his wallet."
While coping with her loss, Charlotte still had a business to run, and she knew she needed to assemble a team to assist with the financial administration of her private and professional affairs. "I had to find resources to fill many of the roles Clyde previously fulfilled in our life together. That included hiring a CPA and an estate attorney, as well as beginning to work much more closely with our investment advisors."
Rosalia "Rodi" B. Strauss, certified public accountant with Strauss & Suit, P.A., has been Charlotte's advisory partner for the past eight years. "When it comes to financial matters, it's important to have an advocate, someone who has a sense of who you are, and for me Rodi is just that person. I appreciate her financial acuity, her ability to explain financial matters in real terms, and she never speaks 'down' to me."
Rodi said that "Charlotte's situation is very common. Since women tend to outlive men, they, like Charlotte, are left with sole control of the marital assets. In many cases a surviving spouse has limited financial experience. It is important for women to educate themselves about basic money management concepts such as life insurance, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and wills so they can make informed financial decisions that will ultimately help them." Rodi shared that "Charlotte has truly come a long way when it comes to financial matters. She [Charlotte] took the time to educate herself in those areas previously handled by Clyde."
Charlotte has a long-standing relationship with the College and has made many lifelong friends through Haverford. "I know Clyde wanted to be able to do something significant for Haverford. Because of his interest, as well as my own, I have committed to supporting the mission of the College." This she has done by working as a '66 class chair for annual giving, by bringing creativity to reunion planning, and by founding the E. Clyde Lutton '66 Memorial Fund in support of student-produced performing arts productions. Now, Charlotte has decided to fund a charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT) at the College.
Rodi explained that "a CRUT, or unitrust, is an ideal way to provide income to a surviving spouse and children with the ultimate beneficiary being the charity or Haverford College. CRUT's are wonderful gift vehicles because they do not exclude heirs. By establishing an irrevocable trust, Charlotte is comforted, knowing that her assets will be distributed the way she intended. The trust will provide Charlotte with a current income stream for a certain period of time, after which the remaining money in the trust will go to the College. It's a win-win situation all around."
Charlotte summed it up best: "I know I can't take my money with me when the time comes. Clyde and I have no immediate heirs, so creating this unitrust perpetuates all we loved about Haverford."
Rodi points out that "before making a gift to Haverford or any charity, people must look at thei current income needs, the needs of beneficiaries, provisions for surviving beneficiaries, and the remainderman [charity]. Donors should also look at the double tax benefits; by funding a CRUT with appreciated securities the donor never pays capital-gain tax and the donor gets a charitable tax deduction. Trusts can be established with as little as $100,000, which puts them well within the range of a large portion of alumni. Since charities have departments devoted to planned giving it makes the whole process of making a deferred gift, such as a CRUT, easier. People need to feel good about their gifts, and educational institutions, such as Haverford, are ideal because they are investing in future leaders."
Now that Charlotte has overcome the financial hurdles through careful estate planning she is able to take up her long-forsaken equestrian hobby and enjoy riding once again.