An advisor I know was recently brought into a situation that I’ve never had any real experience with.
Within a family of clients, the daughter, now in her 60’s, is a schoolteacher. She makes about $60k per year. She’s also the sole trustee and beneficiary of a billion-dollar trust that she doesn’t want anything to do with.
Her mother passed away recently, leaving this trust and all of its proceeds to her. To make things even more challenging, the daughter’s husband is terminally ill with cancer – so they definitely need the resources.
In fact, the entire family has used the trust for decades – except for her.
The trust was formed during World War II. The assets in the trust originated from the sale of weapons and other goods provided to the German Nazi Party. Originally domiciled in Europe, the trust is now here.
No one else in the family had any issue using the money for all of these years…except for the one who could use it most, the daughter.
She won’t take a dime of it.
Not under any circumstances.
She so resents the very idea of the trust, that this woman decided to donate all of the money to help mental illness and homelessness in the area where she lives.
Everyone else in the family has enjoyed the benefits of this trust. The investment advisors that have managed it have made millions of dollars in fees. The family that inherited the illicit trust has lived lavishly, enjoying opulent lifestyles, and even purchased businesses with it to perpetuate the wealth.
But not her!
For the daughter, it’s been a burden and an embarrassment that her family has benefited for all these years, rewarded handsomely on the backs of the pain and suffering endured by so many.
This hits home for me. As a Jew and the son of a homeless man with a mental illness, I have many strong feelings about this.
When I heard this story, and as we are in Ramadan, starting Passover and Easter, I cannot help to think about how much her decision will impact so many people.
She is standing up while those around her remain sitting.
The amazing thing is that this decision was easy for her to make. It was never even a consideration to use one dime of the money. Even with all that she has happening in her life, her only wish was to give it all away to help others.
To her, the answer was simple and she never waivered.
There is no right way to do the wrong thing.
That is what integrity looks like!