I did send letters to six beneficiaries today.
Here is a copy of the text:
I am writing to notify you that you are a beneficiary of two trusts of which I am the sole acting executor. These are “The Margaret Boushka Trust” (after my late mother) as interpreted and amended by replacement on Feb. 16, 2012, and the “John Boushka Trust” set up at that time, all as grantor trusts.
Under the Virginia Uniform Trust Acts, I am required to advise you annually of what is happening.
In October 2017 I sold the trust home at 5143 N. 15th St. Arlington VA 22205 and used the proceeds to purchase a condo unit at 5501 Seminary Road #1301S Falls Church VA 22041, all titled under the Margaret Boushka Trust but naming me as the sole acting trustee.
The settlement transactions, after completed and paying all related expenses, resulted in a net liquidity increase of about $397,000 in all funds controlled by me, including both trusts. The liquid assets in the Margaret Boushka Trust are about $825,000 and in the John Boushka Trust they are about $163000. “Liquid assets” refer to cash, checking and savings accounts, and securities (bonds and stocks) that can normally be sold in a few business days in the usual securities markets. One immediate expectation would be setting aside $200,000 for 20 years taxes, utilities, repairs, and condo fees in securities that cannot lose principal.
Under state and federal laws, beneficiaries are entitled to the expectation that an executor will treat trust funds with a sense of fiduciary responsibility, even if the benefits would only pass on after the executor’s own death. They way the trust is written, no more “distributions” as such to previous heirs or current beneficiaries are to be made. Charitable giving as such should be commensurate with income flow (and tax law, which is changing as we know). However, there is an emphasis on “responsible investing” in socially responsible endeavors such as green technologies or perhaps even infrastructure and power grid security. There would be the possibility (which I have not tried yet) of Kiva loans overseas. There could be a possibility of investment in affordable housing (as, for example, for asylum seekers, in accordance with existing immigration law). But these would have to be run as investments, not as contributions.
There may be a few possible investments (for example, independent film) where it is far preferable to use a trust with only my own name on it. While the standards for my own trust may be slightly more lenient (for example, a small investment in bitcoin or other digital currency would be permissible if in my own name only) in general there is little practical difference between the two.
The trust documents do make provisions for special needs beneficiaries. I personally do not like to be in the business of evaluating at a personal level what is a special need, particularly when it can become politicized.
It is also possible to provide beneficiaries small monthly income flows.
So what I have decided to do is as follows:
I will pay out 5% of the liquidity increase over 20 years in 240 monthly payments, as long as I am alive and as long as each beneficiary is alive or organization is functioning. This amounts to $83 a month. Payments will me made around the 15th of each month starting January 15, 2018. For all beneficiaries I need current mailing addresses for the bank (right now Wells Fargo ) to use in mailing payments. This is the only payment mechanism used by the trust; special platforms that some charities or non-profits use for matching grants can not be used for this purpose.
It is possible to change (add or remove) beneficiaries but this involves further legal expenses.
Currently, some income that is paid to me directly by an annuity goes back to the Margaret Boushka Trust for charitable contributions. That mechanism will continue. Other organizations which are not beneficiaries may continue to receive some contributions in this manner. Every organization however should understand that a contribution does not imply that I personally agree with every position the organization on every possible issue, or would become involved in every issue. I generally do not run fund raising campaigns for other organizations under my own name or brands.
A couple of points.
I forgot to put the email contact and cell on there. It is on the “About” page for this site. If you call me and I don’t pick up (as when driving), please leave a detailed message. Texting, or Facebook or Twitter messenger, or email are fine.
The letter (annually) may be a legally driven requirement and does not require a response.
But it is significant that the Trusts now are geared around to providing small income to beneficiaries and death benefits after my own passing. They no longer pay “distributions” as Mom’s did in 2011.
There is some interest on the idea that wise investments on socially responsible projects would leave more wealth for beneficiaries without ethical complaints from how it was acquired.
As I have noted, the trust language does seem to encourage the possibility of extra payments or gifts to “special needs beneficiaries”. This language may derive from a tradition where many trusts are written for “closely knit” extended families where the trustees know personally various other family members well. That is not always the case with me. Nevertheless, there are some ideas that the trust language would want me to consider. If a beneficiary has a medical need that cannot be covered by normal insurance but where some sort of innovative private intervention is possible and conceivably life-saving, that is something for me to consider. One of the beneficiaries is a well-known charity serving children and does encourage sponsorship. Although I have some reservations about engaging in this gratuitously, the trust language would have encouraged some risk taking for specific needs.
I have a huge list of to-do items to make my own content commercially successful. It’s important for me to “get my own job done” before joining campaigns for others.
Picture: New Years in Falls Church VA, about 1 AM.
Posted: Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 7 PM EST