He’s the “ultimate example of giving while living,” says Bill Gates, himself no slouch when it comes to charitable donations.
Chuck Feeney pioneered luxury on the cheap with his Duty-Free Shoppers stores in airports all around the world. Decades of satisfying travelers’ appetites for bringing back tax-free Chanel perfumes, Toberlone chocolates, and Irish whiskies rang up a fortune in excess of $8 billion—and, for Feeney, a personal yearning to do something much more meaningful with it.
So he went on a mission to give it all away: nearly $4 billion to education, almost $1 billion to human rights and social change causes, $700 million to health and peace initiatives in the U.S., Vietnam, and Ireland, $340 million to tech incubators. This September, it was all gone, save for $2 million set aside for the 89-year-old’s already-frugal plan for living in retirement.
“I see little reason to delay giving when so much good can be achieved through supporting worthwhile causes,” Feeney recently told Forbes. “Besides, it’s a lot more fun to give while you live than give while you’re dead.”
His advice to everyone from those sitting on more money than they know what to do with or someone with even a little to spare that could make a difference: Don’t wait. Do it while you have the means and the energy to make an impact on the causes or people closest to your heart—or even strangers in desperate need who could use a hand.
The ideal estate plan can be to die with nothing. It’s never too late to start helping if your needs are adequately provided for. Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney with a tax background to get your inner philanthropist working in the most tax-efficient way.
About the Author:
John O’Grady leads a full-service estate and trust law firm in San Francisco. His practice includes Estate Planning & Administration, Probate and Trust Litigation.