How to Give Away Your Trust Fund

How to Give Away Your Trust Fund

“First you need to figure out: What do I actually have? How much can I access?” says Willa Conway, who is 31, currently has $3 million at her disposal and will eventually inherit millions more from a sand-mining fortune. Don’t ignore a feeling that you have more than you need. When Conway was in her mid-20s, a graduate-school adviser told her about Resource Generation, which helps the young and wealthy redistribute their wealth. At a four-day retreat Conway attended, a presenter said, “Give your money to social-justice organizing led by people most impacted by oppression.” After Michael Brown Jr. was shot by the police in Ferguson, Mo., Conway helped lead a campaign that raised $1.4 million for more than 100 organizing groups led by African-Americans.

Over the next few decades, as much as $68 trillion will be passed on, mostly from baby boomers to their heirs, in what some characterize as the greatest wealth transfer in history. Honest, open communication is ideal for an intergenerational exchange. Conway is in ongoing conversations with her parents and brother about gaining earlier access to the inheritance. For Conway’s grandparents, building a fortune was driven by a desire for well-being and security. Conway says: “My generation, we’re like, O.K., that didn’t work; we’re all going to die from climate change anyway. Capitalism didn’t protect us, and now we need to find different mechanisms to keep one another safe.”

Resource Generation provides giving guidelines at various tiers, ranging from redistributing all capital gains (“say no to making wealth off of wealth”) to giving away 10 percent of your assets annually to redistributing all inherited wealth or earned income beyond a moderate standard of living. Conway gives about 17 percent (around $500,000) annually. Find financial advisers you trust to help you.

Conway spent years feeling ashamed, when even her closest friends didn’t know she had a trust fund. Talk about money, equality and need with rich and working-class people alike (Conway calls these “cross-class conversations”). “If you’re in community, you realize that you don’t actually need as much money,” Conway says. “I don’t want my kids to have a trust fund.”

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