Inspired by her daughter, Kneen gift makes a difference at Dana-Farber and benefits family

Emily Kneen

Emily Kneen with daughter,
Julie Kneen Brown

Establishing a Charitable Lead Trust is a powerful way to make a planned gift to Dana-Farber now while also providing financial support to your family into the future. A Charitable Lead Trust (CLT) can be used to transfer assets such as cash or stocks to loved ones at a significantly reduced gift and estate tax liability. For a specified term, the trust makes annual payments to Dana-Farber, at the end of which the assets are passed on to loved ones. This type of gift requires foresight and commitment, and no one embodied these characteristics more than the late Emily Kneen.

Kneen was a savvy businesswoman and a strong-willed, single mother from Galva, Ill., who worked six days a week at the small department store she owned until she was 95 years old. Julie Kneen Brown, Emily's only daughter, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in her early 40s, and being her mother's daughter, she fought and beat it. Unfortunately, that was not the last time she would face cancer. A few years later, Brown was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was treated at Dana-Farber, and though she battled every day, this time she was unable to overcome the disease. Brown used the little strength she had left at the end of her life to make her "rounds" and say goodbye and thank you to the staff she had come to know at Dana-Farber.

"My mother was so appreciative of the special work of the Dana-Farber team," explained Brown's daughter, Samantha. "The wonderful staff and the care they provided meant so much to her."

While Kneen was devastated by the loss of her daughter, she was also determined to honor her memory and make something positive out of her incredible fight against cancer. Kneen set the wheels in motion to make a lifetime commitment to Dana-Farber by contributing to the Julie K. Brown Memorial Fund, which Brown's husband established to support breast cancer research. Kneen vowed to make a gift to the fund at Dana-Farber every year to honor her daughter's life and the great work of the physicians and staff who took care of her.

As time went on, Kneen decided she wanted to continue supporting Dana-Farber after her death, but she also wanted to ensure she provided support for her family, so she met with her trusted lawyer, R. Lee Allen of Springfield, Ill. to discuss and plan her estate.

"Emily knew any bequest of funds made to Dana-Farber would be assets that would not pass to her family, and despite the estate tax benefit of such an outright charitable gift, she wanted to hear about other planned giving options that might better balance her goals of supporting both Dana-Farber and her grandchildren," said Allen. "I presented the concept of a testamentary Charitable Lead Trust to her, which would provide an annual payment to Dana-Farber to be continued well after Emily's passing, while allowing an eventual transfer of assets to the grandchildren following the term of the trust."

After her discussion with Allen, Kneen decided that a Charitable Lead Trust was the right giving vehicle for her. It would allow her to accomplish her philanthropic goals as well as her personal goals.

"A Charitable Lead Trust is a great estate planning tool," explained Kneen's granddaughters, Samantha and Eliana. "It allows someone the opportunity to support Dana-Farber and provide for their family at the same time."

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