Audubon Canyon Ranch Director Julie Allecta has a law degree, an MBA and an impressive resume in investment law. What she didn't have until recently was a will or living trust.

"This was a burden that weighed heavily, especially since I am single, and it's not obvious where my assets should go," she said. There were also personal reasons behind her unease. Julie had seen her mother institutionalized with Alzheimer's at age 70 and lost a sister age 65 to cancer.

Skip Schwartz, then-executive director, encouraged her to call planned giving specialist Phil Murphy and mailed her ACR's wills kit, which prepares people to see an estate planning attorney.

"Even though I'm a lawyer who knows about trusts and estates, it was useful to have someone neutral and knowledgeable to speak to," she said. "It was surprising what I didn't know."

Through Phil she learned that Carolyn Farren, a Marin estate planning specialist, is also an ACR supporter. Julie worked with Carolyn to complete her estate plan. "Carolyn made it very easy," she said. "Now I've done it, and I feel relieved and organized."

Julie's trust includes a bequest to Audubon Canyon Ranch. "I want my gifts to have impact," she said, noting that she selected only a few organizations for major bequests rather than making smaller bequests to many. "I have clear views of how I want what's left in my estate used," she added. "I selected local organizations with a strong current mission and strong balance sheet."

Her thirty years of legal experience in investment management also led her to ask how she could protect her bequests. "If I were an estate beneficiary, like ACR, I wouldn't want health care costs eating up a bequest meant for me." So, for example, she purchased long-term health care insurance not so much for herself but to "insure my gift to ACR".

Doing her estate plan brought other benefits: a clearer notion of the value of her estate, a basis to consider larger lifetime gifts to individuals and charities, protection from estate tax, and the satisfaction of letting her favorite charities know they are in her plans.

"They know I have chosen them," she stated. "They know in a real, tangible way that they have my support and future resources."

To order an estate planning kit, contact the ACR Development Department.

Audubon Canyon Ranch is honored to have Julie Allecta as a member of its Clerin Zumwalt Legacy Circle. The Legacy Circle recognizes all donors who have remembered ACR in their estate plans.