Confidential, complimentary estate planning

Although it may feel like you have all the time in the world to plan your estate, half of all Americans die without ever creating a will.

To help with this important task, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque works with  charitable estate planning expert Johni Hays (pictured above), senior vice president of Thompson & Associates, to provide complimentary, confidential estate planning for people who partner with the Foundation.

“Part of our mission is to increase philanthropy, whether that comes to us or any of the nonprofits we work with,” said Nancy Van Milligen, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “We work with Johni to get families to think about charitable giving and be wise about their estates.”

For Community Foundation partners like Sondra Bennett, a member of the foundation’s Women’s Giving Circle, Hays’ services have been valuable.

“The process Johni took me through was so beneficial to me and made me feel so secure in the end,” said Bennett. “By the time Johni and I got done, I understood what I had in assets and how I could leave money to my family. I was also able to leave money to a lot of nonprofits. It’s a wonderful process.”

Hays takes participants through a three-phase process:

  • Complete a confidentiality agreement and a questionnaire about family, values, goals and objectives.
  • Quantify assets to determine potential tax issues.
  • Develop a recommended plan, fine-tuned to meet participants’ personal needs. This plan includes a comparison with participants’ current plan and can then be shared with the participants’ own attorney to be put into action.

“I don’t sell any products or earn commissions. We have confidential, one-on-one conversations about your goals, values, objectives and how can we plan your estate,” said Hays. “Our services are provided at no obligation. You won’t be asked for a charitable gift from me as you’re working with me.”

With conscientious planning, Hays is often able to increase the amount of an estate given to heirs by transferring funds from tax-heavy assets like IRAs to charitable remainder trusts. These trusts pay out earnings to heirs over time, and the principal is given to a charitable cause after that time has passed — minimizing the tax burden on heirs and maximizing impact.

To schedule a meeting with Hays, contact Emily Rollins at 563.588.2700 or