Wealth of Knowledge

With a new book, a ­financial planner illustrates there’s more to will planning than just the will

Photo: Ryan Fraser

IF YOU CONSIDER how difficult it can be to make a simple charitable donation — create an account, verify your email, agree to a monthly credit charge, cancel it before the next withdrawal — it’s easy to understand why people are intimidated about including charities in their wills. There’s enough to do when making your estate plans without considering a legacy gift.

But Ryan Fraser argues whatever hassle is involved is well worth it. Not only has he based his career on that premise, he’s just written a book about the topic, encouraging anyone with a few spare dollars to consider creating a legacy.

“I’ve met so many people who’d rather keep the lights on at an organization they admire, not see their name in lights,” he says. “We’re working with the quiet millionaire next door.”

Fraser works with individuals and charities, helping connect both parties in a way that works for everyone. It’s not the kind of work he imagined doing when he was studying music at Western 25 years ago. As a classically trained saxophone player, he occupied a niche in the orchestral world. He was supporting himself with paying gigs and teaching positions at Western and Windsor.

“We’re working with the quiet millionaire next door” —Ryan Fraser

A conversation with a bass player was one of two turning points he credits for steering him toward his charity-focused career. “He was a good musician, doing what I thought I wanted to do,” Fraser recalls. “But he had three ex-wives and a bunch of kids he rarely saw. It’s not a great career if you want a family.”

He switched to financial planning and was in management at London Life when he had a second epiphany about five years ago. “Both my parents were very ill. During that time, I took a couple of months off to look after them and walked in the woods every day, basically asking myself what I was doing with my life, what I valued, what was important to me.”

His mother died but his father survived his illness. Fraser switched his practice to focus on legacy planning and giving, creating Quiet Legacy Planning Group. In some respects, he operates as a traditional financial planner, offering clients advice and products to meet their investment goals. But he places a lot of emphasis on his clients’ values and beliefs, working with them to invest in ways they can support philosophically.

And he works with clients to find charities that match their beliefs, if they want to leave a legacy of some kind. Sometimes, things are structured to include the surviving children in the management of a fund for a given charity or cause.

In his book, Driven By Purpose, Fraser tells 32 stories about creative estate planning. They are a mixture of stories about his clients, his own life and a few famous folks who made good or bad financial choices. The book is available at the website and at Oxford Books. Wealth of Knowledge  Financial Planning Christopher Clark

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