Bequests and other planned gifts are transformative for the organizations that are lucky enough to receive them. Often these sorts of substantial gifts are more complex than a typical donation, especially as the donor is no longer able to take direct action to ensure that their gift goes where intended. Finding the right personal representative for your estate ensures that your wishes are carried out and that the people, pets, and organizations you care about receive the gifts you intend them to receive.
A personal representative may be a younger family member or a trusted friend. Elizabeth Bedkar Simpson, who passed away in 2019 at the age of 85, chose her dear friend Mari Smith to shepherd her estate and her bequests. Mari worked tirelessly to ensure that the MSSPA, Midcoast Humane, the Chewonki Foundation and others received Beth’s substantial gifts.
Mari is no stranger to helping others. She first became acquainted with Beth through the Freeport Police Department’s “Good Morning” program for elder adults and those living alone. The two soon became friends, and Mari could often be found helping Beth with yard care or learning from her about keeping hens. When Beth had a stroke, Mari and other friends came together to help care for her at home, enabling Beth to stay in her beloved Freeport farmhouse. After Beth’s death in 2019, Mari worked to carry out her wishes in the way that she would have herself. Inspired by Beth’s frugal nature, Mari and her friends did much of the property cleanout themselves, ensuring that Beth’s estate was not diminished.
Beth was a native Mainer with a deep love for animals and the environment. Growing up on a farmstead surrounded by horses and all sorts of other animals instilled in Beth an appreciation of the Maine landscape and all of the creatures found in it. In addition to her gift to the Society’s horses, Beth gave to the cats and dogs of Midcoast Humane, the Chewonki Foundation of Wiscasset, which focuses on environmental education, and the Freeport Conservation Trust. Mari said that the process of giving to these deserving local organizations was relatively easy; she was able to make contact with the appropriate people and see that each bequest went where it was meant to go. Working with a national organization was much more complicated and somewhat opaque in Mari’s estimation, an important consideration when choosing which charities will benefit from your estate.
Though Mari says she is not much of a horse person herself, her own interests and passions did not play a part in her role as Beth’s personal representative. Rather, knowing that Beth dearly loved horses, Mari was happy to help fulfill her wish to continue helping the MSSPA horses even after her death. Because she knew Beth well, understood her wishes, and focused on doing what Beth herself set out in her estate, Mari was an excellent steward of her legacy. Thank you to Elizabeth Simpson for her gifts to the MSSPA and other worthy Maine organizations, and thank you to Mari Smith for so ably ensuring that Beth’s life-saving gifts were received and could be put to work!