Having worked in the financial services industry since 1989, with a developed expertise in wealth planning strategies, Stan Leavitt knows a thing or two about the benefits of giving. Throughout his career and as a member of Philanthropies’ Gift Planning Council, Stan says, “I’ve seen the tremendous benefits of charitable giving and strongly believe we receive more when we give more.”
As a Private Wealth Advisor who has worked with some of the country’s largest financial services companies, Stan attributes one of his personal philosophies on charitable giving to a specific experience in his life. While attending a professional conference early in his career, the discussion revolved around the benefits of leaving ten percent of one’s estate to charity. As an active member of the Church, Stan had experienced the temporal and spiritual blessings from paying tithing. So, when he heard the discussion of leaving ten percent of one’s estate to charity in a secular gift planning conference, he adopted it as a defining philosophy of his financial and estate planning work.
Stan has made it a practice to educate his clients, friends, and family members on the benefits of gift planning and actively encourages them to incorporate it into their estate. Though most of his clients are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Stan frequently mentions the charitable opportunities through Philanthropies and has helped dozens of people consider a planned gift to one of the Church’s fundraising priorities. “This is a very easy way to give,” Stan explains, “because you don’t have to pull your wallet out today.” Taking his own advice, Stan has written BYU into his estate plan and has insured his family’s involvement in gift planning too—setting it so his children have planned opportunities to give through a donor advised fund when he and his wife Karen are gone.
At times, the technical aspect of incorporating charities into an estate plan is overwhelming and can be a considerable discouragement to clients. However, Stan has “had an incredibly positive experience working with Philanthropies” on these issues. “Their knowledge and ability to help when a client and their advisors have technical questions and their ability to explain difficult concepts in an understandable way has been extremely valuable” Stan explains, “and I’ve relied on them many times when I’ve had technical questions and needed help.”
While gift planning is made simple through Philanthropies services, the institution also provides a much-appreciated spirit to the process. According to Stan, “The gift planning conferences have been inspiring and enlightening…and it is so unique to go to a conference for my profession that has such a spiritual focus and nature…it is an incredible experience.”
Stan sees that spirit of generosity and gratitude that defines the Gift Planning Council embodied in a humorous Chinese saying: “If you want to be happy for an hour— take a nap. If you want to be happy for a day—go fishing. If you want to be happy for a month—get married. If you want to be happy for a year—inherit a fortune. If you want to be happy for a lifetime—help others.” While many things contribute to one’s overall sense of happiness, Stan truly believes “happiness comes when we give to others and serve others.”
(Stan is a Private Wealth Advisor and Managing Director at Ameriprise Financial in Roseville California. He and his partner David Pratt joined Ameriprise Financial one year ago after he spent nearly two decades at Merrill Lynch.)