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Choosing a Charity for a Client or Friend?
Ask Ann Landers

[also available in .PDF format]

"Their Rotten Kids Are in for a Surprise"
Reprinted from the Los Angeles Times
October 7, 1999
Ann Landers

Dear Ann: This is a hard letter for me to write. My husband and I are in our 70s and have raised two children who are a disgrace. We waited until we were over 30 to marry because each of us was taking care of an elderly parent. We were thrilled to have children and tried to follow all the rules so we could set a good example. Our children were raised with love, religion, family values and discipline. We lived in a nice home in a fine neighborhood, and they attended excellent schools.

We have searched our hearts to understand why they turned out the way they did. They were never neglected, always supported, and given the best we could afford—and many things we couldn't. Their opportunities were many, but they always chose the wrong path with the wrong people.

Now, we are faced with an unusual problem and need your advice. My husband and I received an unexpected, sizable inheritance. Our children are not aware of this. We do not want them to have it when we die. We have no other relatives, and our friends are as old as we are. We are considering our church and perhaps the Salvation Army.

We have made a list of people mentioned in our local newspaper who have done good deeds with no expectation of being rewarded and think perhaps we might give some money to them. We would like to feel we have really made a big difference in someone's life.

Our attorney wants to meet us soon to draw up our wills. We are not in the best of health. Please answer soon.

~Disappointed Parents, No Name, No State

Dear Parents: I can't imagine what your children did to justify total estrangement, but that's not what you wrote about, so I'll stick to the business at hand.

The good causes you mentioned are excellent places to put your money. I have been a strong supporter of the Salvation Army for years and know how much your help would be appreciated. I also recommend the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the Hereditary Disease Foundation in Los Angeles. Your attorney and tax consultant can advise you on the best way to give your money away and help prevent your will from being contested by your children

  "Choosing A Reputable Charity"
Reprint from the Chicago Sun Times
April 22, 1983
Ann Landers

Dear Ann Landers: My husband and I are not wealthy, but we do have some money we would like to leave to charity. Our children have been a disappointment, and we have helped them perhaps more than we should have in the last several years. Our grandchildren have paid no attention to us whatever and we feel no closeness to them at all.

We have heard that many of the well-known "causes" spend so much on administration, salaries, fund-raising and expense accounts that a shockingly small amount of the money given actually goes to the people who need it for the purpose intended. Can you recommend an organization that helps humanity and does very little skimming off the top?

~The X's in Fort Worth

Dear X's: The Hereditary Disease Foundation, 11400 West Olympic Blvd., Suite 855, Los Angeles, CA spends less than 1 percent of each dollar for promotions,... No other organization comes close. Its integrity is exemplary.


Note:  Since the publication of Ann Landers' column, our address has changed to: 3960 Broadway, 6th Floor
New York, NY  10032
(212) 928-2121

Hereditary Disease Foundation

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