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Donor Story: The Pheiffers plan today for a future impact

People commonly think estate planning should begin around the age of 60, but that is rarely the best approach. In fact, creating an estate plan is recommended as young as late 20s, which is when Rory and Shauna Pheiffer proactively began the process.

“In 2011, we had recently bought a house and were watching our parents navigate their parents’ estate plans, which were basic in their write-up, but complicated to carry out once they needed to be carried out,” said Rory. “At that time, I had a benefit at work that provided estate planning assistance and decided it was something worth taking advantage of.”

As part of their estate plan, the Pheiffers set up a residuary trust to benefit two charities, one of which is The Foundation; a residuary trust ensures one or more designated organizations will receive the remainder of the estate after the specific gifts (i.e., to children or others) are distributed.

Currently, Rory and Shauna estimate that The Foundation would receive about $100,000, though they understand that amount will fluctuate over time. The Pheiffers specifically designated the gift to support Children’s Hospital of Michigan (CHM) in either cardiology or the Ticker Club.

“My brother Ryan, who was four years older than me, was born with congenital heart disease,” Rory said. “He had six procedures at CHM including two open heart procedures, so our family, particularly my parents, knew those halls well. Knowing the support CHM provided and the great work that enabled him to live a fulfilling childhood – I will never forget it. The odds were that Ryan was supposed to live to about the age of eight; he passed away at the age of 27, living an active, near normal life, thanks in large part to CHM and its community.”

Rory knew he would never be a doctor saving lives like his brother’s but wanted to support the Hospital’s mission financially.

“As we thought about our estate plan, we knew we wanted to leave gifts to an organization that meant so much to us,” Shauna said. “It has always been important to us to help others and now that we have children, we especially want them to learn that.”

The couple know their lives will change in many ways from their 20s through their twilight years, which is exactly why they proactively started their estate plan. Now, with daughters ages eight and three, they continue to monitor their estate and adjust as needed – something they’ll do throughout life with confidence in knowing that their finances are in order and allocated to whom and where they wish to invest.

“Life can be unpredictable,” said Shauna. “We want a say while we still have one.”

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