|UTICA FAMILY - The Medow family, Kevin and Angie and children Katherine,
Sarah, Clare and Christopher, are pictured on their farm near
Utica. They operate a 1,000-acre corn and soybean operation as a
family farm corporation with Kevin’s parents and set up a
charitable trust for the family so they could both divide money
among charities of their choosing, and avoid being in a higher
tax bracket. (SNR photo)|
Planned Giving Creates a ‘Win-Win’
Charitable Trust Helps Utica Family Fund Catholic Programs,
Avoid Higher Taxes
UTICA (SNR) - After a few years of abundant harvest, the Medow family felt
extremely blessed by God. But there was
one annoyance: higher taxes.
Kevin and Angie Medow of St. Patrick Parish in Utica operate a 1,000-acre
corn and soybean operation as a family
farm corporation with Kevin’s parents. A
few years ago, they realized that their
success was pushing them closer and
closer to a higher tax bracket.
All agreed that there must be a way to make better use of their bounty
from God other than hand it over in
“Everything you receive is a gift from God, and we really have more than
we need, so we’re just giving something
back,” said Mr. Medow.
As devout Christians, naturally they thought of donating to their
Mr. Medow joined his wife in the Catholic Church when he converted about
19 years ago. His parents, however,
remain Missouri Synod Lutherans.
Fortunately, there is a similarity in values between the two faith
traditions. It seemed plausible for the
couples to divide the excesses of the
farm and make charitable gifts to both
About two years ago, the couples began investigating the possibilities.
Mr. and Mrs. Medow contacted the
Catholic Planned Giving Office at the
Chancery, while his parents pursued
options in their church.
A charitable trust made sense for the family. They would be able to use a
portion of the farm’s abundance to fund
the trust, thereby avoiding the higher
tax bracket. Then, when the trust is
dissolved, the money that had been
accruing would be divided among
charities of their own choosing.
As it turned out, Michael Henkenius, director of the Planned Giving Office
and Les Mach, planned giving officer,
were able to give advice, but don’t have
the capacity for actually setting up a
On the other hand, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Foundation (LCMSF)
has a national organization that can
provide comprehensive trust services.
Mr. Medow’s parents discovered that they
could set up a trust through that
program, designating 51% to Lutheran
charities and the other 49% to
non-Lutheran charities, as long as the
other beneficiaries met certain moral
Happily, all of the charities that Mr. and Mrs. Medow wanted to support
After considering all the options, the Medows settled on a charitable
remainder trust. The trust was set up as
a legal entity, which is managed by the
LCMSF, along with $640+ million in other
An account for the trust was set up at the local grain elevator. At every
harvest, the Medows designate some of
their grain for the trust account.
“Since we’re giving that grain away, we don’t have to pay taxes on it,”
Mr. Medow explained.
The plan is flexible. The Medows can put as much or as little grain as
they see fit into the trust account. In
sparse years, they don’t have to put
anything into it.
“You never know what you’re going to have from one year or the next, so
that’s why it appealed to us,” said Mr.
The trust then sells the grain and uses the income for reinvestment. That
way, the dollar amount of the trust
continues to grow.
Every year, the Medows’ family farm corporation receives a 6.5% return
from the trust. This is especially
helpful because it can help tide the
farm over during tough years.
The Medows decided to go with the maximum length for the trust: 20 years.
“We went with the maximum, knowing we could shorten it later if we wanted
to,” Mr. Medow reasoned.
When the trust is dissolved, the money will be dispersed according to the
Medows’ wishes. The 51% that must go to
Lutheran charities was designated by Mr.
Medow’s parents, while he and his wife
were able to select Catholic charities
for the remaining 49%.
“That was actually the fun part to sit down and look through our list and
decide which ones were the most dear to
us,” Mrs. Medow said.
They were able to name as many beneficiaries as they liked. They opted for
programs that had the evangelical
component that is important to them.
Among their selected charities are the new St. Gianna’s Women’s Homes,
Fellowship of Catholic University
Students (FOCUS), the Pope Paul VI
Institute, KVSS Spirit Catholic Radio
and their own parish.
Throughout the duration of the trust, they are free to change or add
charities as they wish. For example, if
a new Catholic outreach program is
formed in a couple of years, they could
add it to their list of beneficiaries,
reconfiguring the percentage allocation
as they see fit.
The Medows look at a charitable trust as another way for any Catholic
farmer, rancher or business owner to do
what all Catholics are called to do:
Mr. Medow recalled a conference on stewardship and end-of-life issues that
they attended at St. Gregory the Great
Seminary in Seward some time ago. Msgr.
Liam Barr had spoken about the
importance of giving, and his words
struck a chord with the Medows.
“He said that giving is something we need to do for ourselves,” Mr. Medow
said. “And I thought to myself, ‘How
true.’ We need to give. Otherwise, we
“We’re just glad that we’re blessed to be able to do it,” Mrs. Medow said.
Planned Giving Office Helps Make Most of Financial Resources
(SNR) - While many people think of planned giving as a component in a
will, there are other opportunities to
help favorite Catholic charities and
outreach programs before death.
As the Medows discovered, there are a variety of trusts and other options
that can produce financial benefits
while the giver is still living.
Formed in 1997, the Catholic Planned Giving Office was established to
serve Catholic parishes and schools by
helping individuals and businesses find
the best way to contribute their
financial resources to programs they
Both Michael Henkenius, director, and Les Mach, officer, are highly
knowledgeable and capable of providing
all the information needed for trusts,
wills and other giving opportunities.
They can also provide a list of
attorneys, accountants and other
financial professionals who are
necessary in completing the process.
Mr. Henkenius and Mr. Mach frequently conduct seminars for parishes and
deaneries to help educate individuals
and business owners about the many ways
to use planned giving to support the
work of the Church.
For information about setting up a charitable trust, adding Catholic
charities as beneficiaries to an
existing trust or will, or hosting a
planned giving seminar, contact Michael
Henkenius at (402) 488-2142, ext 113, or
Les Mach at (402) 443-6180.
By S.L. Hansen