Multi-Generation Generosity

Harland and Rose kept the money they earned in a household account. As a banker, Rose managed the family finances with precision. Harland, a WWII Navy veteran and carpenter, thrived on the art of the deal. He had a keen eye for fixer-uppers. Any money he earned moonlighting he invested in houses, property, and cars. They made a good pair: the conservative banker and the hardworking risk taker.  

Their son Randy remembers sitting between the two of them in a church pew as a teenager in the mid-1960s. There was a special funding appeal. His dad felt moved, reached for the checkbook (which Rose carried and managed), and wrote out a check for $1000. “He thought she was going to flip,” Randy remembers. “We don’t have that much in the account,” Rose whispered. “But you can fix that on Monday morning,” was Harland’s reply. He was complicated and impulsive, but always generous. He liked to grow his money and give it away. 


Decades later, this has become part of the Rabenstein family’s DNA. Randy inherited rental property when Harland passed away and was a landlord for two decades. But after he retired from his career as a YMCA director, he wanted the freedom to travel more often with his wife, Lynn, who is a United Methodist deacon. They also wanted to pass Harland’s gift along to the next generation. They knew their kids didn’t want to be landlords, but college tuition for the grandkids was looming on the horizon. 

That was when Lynn learned about Charitable Gift Annuities. For people who want to support both charity and their kids, “it sounds too good to be true,” Lynn says. “It’s such a win-win!” Here’s how it worked for them: Lynn and Randy worked with executive director Tom Wilson to set up an annuity with the Northwest United Methodist Foundation. They deeded their real estate to the Foundation, in exchange for fixed payments for the rest of their lives. They were able to claim part of the property’s value as a tax deduction. The Foundation sold the property and invested the proceeds for long-term growth in a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds. Lynn and Randy have deferred their payments until the fall of 2019, when their oldest granddaughter will start college, because they plan to use the money to help fund education for their family’s youngest generation.

Because the money will continue to grow, Lynn and Randy expect that there will be some left over beyond their lifetimes. Those funds will eventually be distributed to four of Lynn and Randy’s favorite charities: Oregon-Idaho Camp and Retreat Ministries, GLIDE Church, Skagit Valley Family YMCA, and the Northwest United Methodist Foundation. This legacy reflects their shared calling of nurturing health in body, mind, and spirit through YMCA programs, urban mission trips, and camping and retreat adventures.  

How would Harland and Rose feel about all this? They might not have thought to use an annuity this way, but Randy thinks they’d be pleased to know that their rental property would be used both to support their great-grandchildren and benefit charity. The oldest granddaughter has received scholarships from an excellent university that cover tuition, room, and board, so the annuity payments will likely be used for books, computers, fees, and probably transportation. Harland loved finding cars for all of his kids and grandkids to drive. So, knowing that one of the fixer-upper rental properties that he gave to Randy was helping to continue that legacy? Randy says, “He’d get a kick out of that.”