Trusts and Estates Attorney and Donor
“While I am pleased to have established 17 different funds at The Trust [for clients], the fund that most gratifies me is the one that I have established through my own will. I am confident that when it is established, the staff at The Trust will respect and carry out its purposes as carefully and thoughtfully as if I were still alive to check on them.” - Huyler Held
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“In over forty years of practicing law in New York, one of the simple lessons I have learned is to trust the professionals. My expertise is trust and estate law. Because I am an enthusiastic New Yorker, I also know a bit about our city’s charitable sector. But I cannot profess to have the breadth of knowledge or the time or the reach of a well-established institution like The New York Community Trust.
My first experience with the Trust dates back to the late 60s. I was the lawyer for and one of the executors of the estate of the then well-known anthologist and poet Oscar Williams
. No less of a poet than Robert Lowell wrote that he was “probably the best anthologist in America.” In giving me instructions with respect to his Will, Oscar told me that he was anxious to provide funds to help struggling artists and poets such as his wife, the painter Gene Derwood
, and he had been at the start of their careers, as well as more senior artists and poets who had fallen on bad times.
After his death my co-executor and I created a fund at the Trust whose purpose was to carry out Oscar’s intentions. The assets contributed to the fund were royalties from the 15 major titles which he created. I am very pleased to note that over time this modest fund has grown from an initial $70,000 to over $700,000 today. I like to think that Oscar and Gene would be pleased by the numerous artists who have been helped over the years, and as his lawyer I have to admit a degree of relief in not having been saddled with figuring out how to make the idea work year in and year out.
It is clear to me that the Trust understands some of the City’s most intractable problems. With that in mind, I established the Rhodebeck Fund for the Elderly and the Rhodebeck Fund for the Homeless. The former fund has made grants ranging from teaching elderly immigrants how to speak English to supporting a neighborhood development group that counsels and assists elders who are victims of predatory lenders. The latter fund has made grants to a church-based soup kitchen in Jamaica, Queens and to a watchdog organization that monitors compliance with the City’s shelter services for homeless families.
Of course, many people use the Trust for its virtually seamless administration of donor-advised funds. I have recommended it to a number of clients, particularly to those seeking anonymity. The arrangement works very well, since I have reason to know that the Trust is careful to shield the identity of its anonymous donors.
While I am pleased to have established 17 different funds at the Trust (a record, I suspect, which I happily challenge my fellow lawyers to meet and surpass), the fund that most gratifies me is the one that I have established through my own Will. God willing, its funding will not happen any time soon; however, I am confident that when it is established, the staff at the Trust will respect and carry out its purposes as carefully and thoughtfully as if I were still alive to check on them.” From our June 2006 annual report.
Huyler Held died at home on April 16, 2013 at age 87. He helped create the Rhodebeck Trust, a private foundation, in 1987 for his client Mildred Teasdale Rhodebeck to “alleviate the plight of disadvantaged people in the New York metropolitan area, including people who are homeless, hungry, elderly, or sick, and children.” The sole trustee, he stipulated in his will that the Rhodebeck Trust be renamed the Richard and Mildren T. Rhodebeck Fund and become an unrestricted fund in The Trust, continuing the informed and engaged philanthropy that Held typified. In his will he also established the Huyler C. Held Memorial Fund, which supports cultural organizations in New York City.
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