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By Lynn McDowell, JD, CSPG
Office of Planned Giving

Dennis and Yolanda De La PazWhen it comes to financial savvy, Dennis and Yolanda De La Paz have it covered. Both high-level bankers for their entire careers, Yolanda's talent was recognized in her first job out of university, when her employer paid for her graduate degree in banking. Yolanda retired as a senior vice president of commercial banking; Dennis, also a VP, was legendary for his ability to quickly spot the weakness in any balance sheet, and was tapped by the FDIC to help sort through the 2008 banking crisis.

Their professional skills served them well in their private lives, too. Dennis' no-nonsense approach to the bottom line ensured that there would be no compromise of their lifestyle when they retired. Then came the diagnosis: prostate cancer.

Applying the thorough, methodical approach that was his trademark, Dennis looked at the treatment methods available. He found Bob Markini's book, You Can Beat Prostate Cancer, and concluded that proton therapy was the only therapy for him, and that Loma Linda University Health (LLUH) was the right place for it.

While a patient at the Proton Center, Dennis applied his strategic thinking to possible future scenarios. He wanted to make sure Yolanda and members of her family were cared for, and his respect for LLUH was growing by the day. After discussing his thoughts with Yolanda, Dennis went in search of LLUH's Planned Giving department.

"We found it very advantageous to work with Loma Linda," says Dennis. Director of Planned Giving Todd Mekelburg was particularly helpful in coming up with different ways to achieve their goals of taking care of family and making a significant contribution to LLUH and its Vision 2020 Campaign.

Because of some bad experiences with attorneys, Dennis was hesitant to structure a charitable remainder trust—or any other kind of trust. But attorney Kenneth Iwakoshi, director of Trust Services, turned that all around for Dennis. "The more we got into the process, the more positive the experience became," says Dennis.

Not only was Kenny pleasant and a good listener, Dennis and Yolanda knew from their professional lives that Kenny's legal work saved them several thousands of dollars. "Kenny insisted we have our attorney review everything," recalls Dennis. "The detail we were able to get with Kenny was very good."

To top it off, the De La Pazs remained in complete control while they deliberated about who to benefit and the best structure for their trust—a process that spanned two years. The discussion was always congenial and accommodating of Yolanda's desire to include two other charities as beneficiaries of the trust. It was a big relief to them when LLUH agreed to be named successor trustee, acting as always, without fee.

"Working with Todd and Kenny was a phenomenal benefit," says Yolanda, who'd served on the board of White Memorial Hospital, another Adventist healthcare institution. "I liked the idea of keeping it in the family."

"If you're going to have a trust," Dennis advises, "you should include a charity." Now in his fifth year of being cancer-free and maintaining the low Gleason scores that make his doctor smile, Dennis is glad he took the initiative to work with Planned Giving and Trust Services. The De La Pazs are money ahead, and confident that they've saved their family a lot of stress.

Why a Charitable Remainder in a Living Trust?

The living trust allows the donor(s) to benefit from trust payouts while they are alive. If a charitable remainder clause is included, the donor can ensure that family or other persons benefit from trust payouts for as long as the donor specifies, and then a charity or charities get what remains in the trust. The family or other individuals can receive payments from the trust for their lives or for a specific number of years. When that period ends, what's left in the trust ("the remainder") passes to the charity or charities named.

"It's a win-win," concludes Dennis. "You take care of your family, and help the Adventist family of charities," he smiles. It's clear he and Yolanda still feel good about their experience and happy with their decision: they've widened their circle of trust.

Not a bad result for a couple of veteran bankers.

Visit our website for more information on charitable remainder trusts and other planned giving strategies.

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