Everyone agrees that doing the right thing is, well, the right thing to do, but many stall out trying to figure out what this means.

Should you make monthly donations to a cause close to your heart? Support a political party that shares your values? Volunteer your time rather than give money? Focus your energy and attention on those nearest to you? Or, invest resources in those who need help most?

Doing the right thing can be overwhelming and yet something is better than nothing.

One of the best ways of paying it forward is to include charitable giving in your estate planning. Making a charitable bequest in your will allows you to leave behind a positive legacy while at once making good on a valuable piece of biblical advice (no matter your religious affiliation):

Be careful that you don’t do your charitable
giving before men, to be seen by them, or else
you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
—Matthew 6:1

Mike Ilitch, the late Little Caesars founder, and Detroit Tigers owner is a perfect example.

Ilitch passed away in 2017 but his contributions to Motor City are far from forgotten. His many philanthropic initiatives include the Little Ceasars Love Kitchen, the Little Caesars Veterans Program, and the Little Caesars Amateur Hockey Program. However, the charitable act for which he may be most remembered is quietly paying Rosa Parks’ rent for the last eleven years of her life.

In 1994, the civil rights leader was robbed and assaulted at her home at the age of 81. Friends helped her find a safer apartment at the Riverfront Apartments in Detroit and when Ilitch caught wind of the event, he intervened and offered to pay her rent indefinitely—and he did.

Until the day of Park’s death in 2005, Little Caesars Enterprises took care of signing her rent checks. Ilitch never made a fuss about his charitable deed and asked for no public acknowledgment in return. He was simply committed to doing the right thing.

His was not an act of estate planning, per se, but it was certainly an act of paying it forward. Parks predeceased Ilitch by more than ten years and yet had it been the other way around, he no doubt would have arranged for his estate to continue paying the civil rights icons’ rent for as long as needed.

To learn more about how your estate plan can become a vehicle for social good or to get started today on including a charitable bequest in your will, do not hesitate to reach out to the Deliberato Law Center today either by calling us at (216) 341-3413 or using the contact form on our website.


Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at Deliberato Law Center