Ken and Charlotte Mills: Planned Gift ‘Pays Forward’ to Leave a Legacy

The Ohio State University gave Ken and Charlotte Mills a stellar education and expert health care when they needed it, and now they are paying forward with a major planned gift that will continue their Ohio State legacy long into the future.

Both Ken and Charlotte graduated from Ohio State—Ken with a degree in communications. He co-founded Mills James Productions in 1984 along with Cameron James, son of Arthur James, MD, longtime Ohio State cancer physician and namesake of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. Ken remains president of Mills James, one of the nation’s most comprehensive creative media companies. During his long career, he has spearheaded creative services for a wide range of advertising, broadcast and corporate clients, including many Fortune 500 corporations. Mills James is headquartered in Columbus and has offices and production facilities in Cincinnati and Cleveland.

Charlotte received her first degree from the College of Education and Human Ecology in 1969, then added a BS from the College of Nursing 10 years later. She spent the bulk of her career as a nurse working in infectious diseases at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, but she also spent time in the bone marrow transplant unit at The James. She retired from Ohio State in 1991.

When she was diagnosed with an early-stage breast cancer in 1999, Charlotte also came to know the OSUCCC – James as a patient of William Farrar, MD, director of the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center and director of medical credentialing at The James. Calling the experience “excellent,” and knowing the exceptional reputation of the OSUCCC – James, Charlotte recalls feeling confident that she was in good hands.

Due in large part to this positive experience, the Mills thought of the OSUCCC – James while recently updating their wills and trusts. Their planned gift calls for 25 percent of their estate to go to the OSUCCC – James. Their gift is anticipated to be several million dollars – with an additional 12.5 percent of their estate going to the OSU Foundation for scholarships in nursing and communication.

“Both of us agreed on the importance of cancer research, and we really wanted to help The James succeed,” says Ken. “We have been around long enough to hear Dr. James talk about his vision for a cure for cancer, and he was very inspiring. We’ve seen his dream come true and exceeded to some degree.”

Adds Charlotte, “We hope our gift will help to find a cure for cancer. We’d like that to be our legacy to our family, the community and the world. This is our opportunity.”

The Mills join other families who have named the university as a beneficiary of a planned gift in the Neil Legacy Society. Named in honor of the Neil family, who made 361 acres of farmland available for what is now The Ohio State University, the Neil Legacy Society honors those who have invested in Ohio State’s tradition of excellence. Members receive invitations to exclusive special events and updates on university giving news.

Planned gifts are a great way for people of different means to make a profound impact in the fight against cancer at the OSUCCC – James. While planned gifts are most often made through bequests, such as the gift from the Mills, other options are available, including charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts or lead trusts, endowment funds, retirement plan assets, life insurance policies and a remainder interest in one’s home.

Says Ken, “A planned gift comes from sitting down to work on estate planning and asking yourselves the hard question: What do you want to do with whatever your estate has accumulated after you’re gone?”

“For us,” says Charlotte, “it was easy. The James is such an important part of the central Ohio community. We feel a closeness to that. We’d really like to help them because they helped us.”

What is Gift Planning?

Gift planning is finding ways to make charitable gifts now or after your lifetime while enjoying financial benefits for yourself. Planned gifts, unlike cash donations, are typically made from assets in your estate rather than disposable income, and come to fruition upon your death. The most common planned gift is a bequest in your will or living trust. Other planned gifts include:

  • A charitable gift annuity
  • A charitable remainder trust
  • A charitable lead trust
  • An endowment fund
  • Retirement plan assets
  • Life insurance policies
  • A remainder interest in your home

A misconception is that gift planning is only for the “wealthy.” The truth is, even people of modest means can make a difference through gift planning! Call Maria Miller at 614-685-5856 to learn how you can support The James’ mission while ensuring your family’s financial security.

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