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“It’s a very comforting feeling knowing that you will have some influence on things after you are gone,” says Art Thomas, a lifelong Cleveland resident and a member of the Heritage Society, which recognizes individuals who have made a planned gift to strengthen the ministries of the Diocese of the Cleveland.

Before retiring from a 33-year career as a teacher and then manager of the Breen Center for the Performing Arts at Saint Ignatius High School, Art began thinking about what he light-heartedly refers to as his “exit strategy.” Art says, “I am single, never married, without children, and no one is dependent on me. It made sense to leave my assets to organizations that do something special for people and have influenced my life in some way.”

As a man of faith, Art reflected on his first contact with his Catholic faith, which took place as a young boy entering grade school at St. Ignatius of Antioch parish school in Cleveland. He also wanted to remember his current parish, Lakewood’s Transfiguration Parish, in his estate planning.

Art had the help of his financial planner in creating a revocable living trust, which he finds to be a practical and flexible instrument to carry out his wishes. “I found it a clear path to recognize Catholic Charities and other organizations that are important to us in Cleveland,” says Art. “Because I do not have a huge amount to give, I wanted to select local groups where my money would be appreciated and have an impact.”

Art believes it is important to disclose one’s estate plans to the beneficiaries, citing that it is helpful for pastors and others to know about future gifts in advance. “That leads to good mental health on the part of the donor,” says Art. “I have peace of mind knowing the organization has integrity and will follow my wishes in a way that I intended.”

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