Donor Takes Unconventional Approach to Planned Gift

Rick Kilgore has long admired the work of the Embrace Alabama Kids, a ministry of the United Methodist Children’s Home, and wants to help ensure that the ministry will be there for future generations of hurting children. He also wants the most profitable return on his investment and the peace of mind that comes with knowing his gift will be used as he intends.

That’s why the longtime supporter recently took a different approach to planned giving. After exploring many avenues, Mr. Kilgore and his advisors came up with a plan that would accomplish all of his goals. “This is not your normal, run of the mill planned gift,” he said.

“By being the guinea pig, we hope we are in a position to help make it easy to provide charitable giving to the Children’s Home [now Embrace Alabama Kids].”

Mr. Kilgore, who has a long history of philanthropy, bought a life insurance policy on his daughter, Beth Kilgore, with plans for it to ultimately benefit the ministry. He named the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham the beneficiary however, and the money will be placed in a donor advised fund. This will give his family flexibility for distributing the gift should the focus of the ministry ever change.

Mr. Kilgore began researching options because he wanted to ensure the future of Embrace Alabama Kids remains strong. With some uncertainty looming with the future of the United Methodist Church, he believes it should be no question that he continue supporting the ministry.

“If people have an uncomfortable feeling, they’re not going to donate,” he said, adding that he wanted to share his story to encourage other donors to make similar provisions in their estate planning. “This gives people a comfort level.”

Buying the life insurance policy allowed Mr. Kilgore to “leverage pennies on the dollar,” according to T.O. McDowell, Regional Director of First Protective, a financial services firm. The cost of the policy on Mr. Kilgore’s daughter was much less than one on himself would be since she is younger and has no health issues.

Rick Kilgore pictured with his
daughter, Beth Kilgore.

That means that Mr. Kilgore’s initial investment of about $50,000 will provide an ultimate payoff of $250,000 to benefit Embrace Alabama Kids and won’t impact his estate like an outright gift of $250,000 would have. “This is done a lot more than people realize,” McDowell said.

“Life insurance is leveraged and premiums have never been lower because people are living longer.”

Naming the Community Foundation as the benefactor accomplished several goals. While Mr. Kilgore has specified that he wants the funds to benefit Embrace Alabama Kids – A Ministry of UMCH, the family members serving as advisors will be able to funnel the gift to organizations with similar missions should the need arise.

In addition, the fund encourages generational giving, a concept that is important to Mr. Kilgore. “My children and grandchildren will have a vested interest in the Children’s Home [now Embrace Alabama Kids],” he said.

“They will want to be involved and they will want the Children’s Home to be successful, because that’s where this money is going.”

Donor advised funds can be started by transferring at least $15,000 to the Community Foundation, whether it’s cash, appreciated stocks, real estate, insurance policies, or other assets, according to George Gaskin, the Community Foundation’s Director of Gift Planning. Funds like Mr. Kilgore’s can be advised by two generations of advisors, and they have greater tax advantages and fewer administrative burdens than a private foundation.

Mr. Kilgore said that knowing his planned gift will help children in foster care has given him peace of mind. “My mother was an orphan from the age of 11 or 12,” he said. “She was fortunate that she had a sister who took her in, but not everyone has that today. We feel very fortunate to be in a situation to be able to do this.”

Alabama Family Fully Embraces Family Preservation Program

When David and Janelle Turner went to court in hopes of getting custody of their grandchildren who had been placed in foster care, the judge asked one important question: “Exactly how large is your heart?”

Mrs. Turner thought a moment before answering. She has no biological children of her own – the kids are her stepson’s and his wife’s – and she knew that big changes were ahead. Instead of focusing on the uncertainty, though, she answered from her heart. “It’s big enough for these two,” she said. “I realized you don’t actually have to birth a child to love them. I’m a very tenderhearted, loving person and I have a lot to offer.”

The children, ages 4 and 2, will need plenty of love and stability going forward. Their parents, who at one time lived with the Turners, lost custody of the kids due to excessive drug use, neglect and family conflict. The children were in foster care for eight weeks, and the Embrace Alabama Kids staff helped the Turners with the reunification process and have provided a variety of supportive services.

“I feel like right now we are in a much better place because of what they offered,” Mrs. Turner said. “I’m taking everything they offer to help our family. If we are going to do this, I want it to be done the right way.”

The goal of Embrace Alabama Kid’s Family Preservation program is to provide intensive in-home treatments to equip families with the skills they need to stay together in a safe, healthy home. Statistics show that children who enter foster care have a 50 percent chance of remaining in foster care until they age out, so if reunification with family is possible, that’s the best outcome.

The children’s parents have left the home, and the Family Preservation staff is helping the Turners with parenting and discipline techniques. They’ve established a reward system for the children to encourage good behavior, and have worked together to ensure that the home is safe and in good repair. The staff helped arrange for day care and speech therapy for the children, as well as weekly counseling for the family.

“The things that were causing us heartache are no longer here,” Mrs. Turner said. “Now we’re living in positivity. It’s no longer about us, it’s about the children. It’s about the whole package.”

Christy Foley, a Family Intervention Specialist for Embrace Alabama Kids, said she is pleased with the progress the family has made. The Turners have met each requirement and are helping the children to learn life skills, such as dressing themselves. They have also been diligent in ensuring that the oldest child, who has some health issues, gets the medical care he needs.

“They’re a sweet little family,” Foley said. “This is the only home the children have known and it’s a comfort for them. Mr. and Mrs. Turner love them and take good care of them.”

Mrs. Turner said she is grateful for the support she and her husband have received from the Family Preservation staff. “To me, a family is a whole unit working together to overcome anything that is thrown at them,” she said. “We’re working together as a family. A lot of things are changing, but they’re changing in a positive way.”