A recent survey by the senior living referral service Caring.com found that two-thirds of Americans do not have an up-to-date will. October 16-22 is National Estate Planning Week. It’s the perfect time to map out or update an estate plan. When you do, we hope you’ll consider including an estate gift to the Council in your plan.
“Including organizations that are important to you in your will is a powerful act,” says the Lori Werbeckes, Fund Development Director at the Council. Leaving a gift to an organization in one’s will has several benefits for the donor. From a fiscal perspective, there may be tax breaks associated with making a planned gift. Additionally, donors have absolute power to determine what charities they want to support. And the donor creates a legacy for themself and their family when making a bequest to a favorite organization.
Lori says a planned gift shows a special kind of commitment. Unlike a yearly donation or a contribution from a workplace program—both of which are extremely valued and vital—a planned gift has longevity. It brings an emotional connection, and it displays an extra amount of forethought.
Evansville residents Chris and Theresa Zenchenko included a planned gift to the Council in their will. Chris says their bequest is based on a lifetime relationship with the Council. “I grew up with the Council,” Chris says. “I knew the original founders. When I was very young, they used to live right around the corner from us.” Chris, who is blind and whose parents were visually impaired, had a hands-on introduction to the Council’s work through his family’s connection to its founders. “We used to sit on their front porch and seal envelopes for the White Cane Fund drives,” he says.
Chris went on to serve several terms in leadership roles on the Council’s Board. The experience paved the way for the decision to make the Council part of his will. “It was an affirmation that I believed in the Council’s mission and supported what the organization stood for,” he says.
Chris is quick to encourage others to include the Council in their wills. “To me, one of the most important components of what the Council stands for and does is educating the sighted world about blindness and visual impairment,” he says. “Blindness is one of the most feared things for people. You ask a person what are they afraid to live without, their hearing or their sight? They’ll say sight every time because people fear that you can’t function without it,” Chris says. “The Council proves that you can live and thrive without sight. The work they do with the legislature improves lives all over the state. There is no other organization that does those things on a statewide basis. The Council serves all counties and that makes a huge difference.”
Lori is grateful for the planned gifts to the Council from people like the Zenchenkos. “As the recipient of estate gifts on behalf of the Council, we are honored that donors intentionally plan for the Council’s success beyond their lifetime,” Lori says. “That is a strong statement of support and focus on the future.”
You can find information about including the Council in your will at WCBlind.org/donate, or you can call Lori at 608-237-8114.