Posted on December 1, 2017 · Posted in News

Alicia Aixalá felt her church was her second home, so she remembered it in her will

Friday, December 1, 2017                                                                                                                                                                        Ana Rodriguez Soto – Florida Catholic newspaper

MIAMI | Alicia Aixalá loved her church so much, she remembered it in her will. Her gift, spread over 20 years, could yield as much as $17 million for Epiphany Church and the Archdiocese of Miami.

“I always told my friends that my mother had two homes. The one where she slept and ate her meals; the other where her heart and soul resided — and where she loved to sing and set the table,” said Aixalá’s son, Alejandro Aixalá. “It’s only fitting that that’s what she would do.”

Alicia Aixalá died April 5, 2016. She had been a member of Epiphany Parish in South Miami since 1982, the second time she settled in South Florida after leaving Cuba in 1960. Alejandro is one of her five children, and the only one who attended Epiphany School.

But his mom wanted to create “an opportunity for people to get a Catholic education.”

So in addition to a specific bequest of $100,000 to the Epiphany School endowment, and another gift to the church for Mass intentions, Aixalá created a CLAT — a Charitable Lead Annuity Trust.

A member of the Bacardí family, she placed her company stock in the trust. For the next 20 years, the Epiphany endowment will receive 60 percent of the interest of that trust; the ABCD (Archbishop’s Charity and Development appeal) will get another 20 percent; and the remaining 20 percent will fund another Catholic charity in South Florida. At the end of the 20-year period, the stock will revert to her children.

“Not only will her legacy live on through her children and family, but through this extraordinary gift, she has also created a legacy in the Church that will live on through those her generous gift will serve forever,” said Katie Blanco Bourdeau, president of the archdiocese’s Development Corporation.

CLATs and similar planned giving vehicles not only benefit the Church. With thoughtful planning, they may minimize the tax burden on heirs, so that donors “actually end up leaving more to their children,” said Karey Bosack Greenstein, senior director of Planned Giving for the archdiocese’s Development Corporation. “It’s a win-win all the way around.”

The earnings from Aixalá’s trust will help grow the Epiphany endowment, which is parked in the archdiocese’s Catholic Community Foundation. The CCF administers and invests endowed gifts for all the individual parishes, schools and other agencies of the archdiocese.

“Endowments are the future of the Church because they create a funding source annually to help sustain the Church over time,” said Blanco Bourdeau.

The CCF currently has over $200 million in assets, up from $113 million in 2005.

Granted, not everyone is like Aixalá, whose Bacardí stock has been in the family for generations.

“What’s amazing about planned giving is that anyone can give,” said Bosack Greenstein. For instance, donors can direct that their life insurance policies, retirement benefits or annuities be given to charity after their death.

“No amount is too small because it’s going to help build the kingdom of God and sustain it,” she said. “Imagine if everyone left $1,000 or even $100. All of the wealth that we accumulate during our lifetime is really wealth that God has entrusted to us.”

Aixalá understood that. And it’s partly why his mother was so generous, said Alejandro, referring to the Bacardí connection. “A huge part of that legacy was always giving back.”

In addition to posthumous induction into theArchbishop Coleman Carroll Legacy Society, Aixalá’s gift to her “second home” earned her this year’s One in Charity award, given at the annual ThanksForGiving Mass the weekend before Thanksgiving. (See story)

All her children were present to receive it, even though only one still lives in South Florida.

“Most children might be jealous of their mother having a second family,” said Alejandro. “But quite the contrary, we saw that her love and her faith were meant for a community much larger than just our nuclear family — which isn’t tiny either.”