Frank Lidinsky first met Bertha and Cooper Hoddinott in 2016 after their neighbors at Oakcrest Senior Living referred him for estate planning assistance. “They really hadn’t done any planning up until then,” says Frank. “He had worked for BGE and the State of Maryland and she was a former legal secretary. They enjoyed life and had a lovely home in Phoenix, Maryland, but they didn’t live extravagantly, they saved and invested wisely and did not have children. By that point in life, they had built up a significant estate.”
Bertha and Cooper, who originally grew up in West Baltimore and in Ashburton in Northwest Baltimore, respectively, knew they needed financial liquidity for assisted living and medical expenses in the present; however, the couple also wanted to establish a plan for their assets upon their death. Because Bertha suffered from cardiovascular disease and Cooper from lung cancer, they were passionate about supporting care for fellow patients and research into cures. “I believe they were grateful to the doctors and nurses who were taking care of them,” says Frank, “and they wanted to contribute after their death, so others could receive the kind of care they were getting.”
Their wishes took on new urgency in 2016, when Cooper passed away. By this point, the couple had become very close to Frank, who visited Bertha at Oakcrest every week and occasionally brought his wife and grandchildren along. Bertha trusted Frank to create a plan to fulfill their wishes and, says Frank, “due to the size of their estate and what they hoped to accomplish, I knew we needed the Baltimore Community Foundation.”
Frank was very familiar with BCF and the resources it could provide from serving on a committee for the Richard A. Lidinsky, Sr. Fund, which was established by the City of Baltimore to reward outstanding city employees. The fund is named for Frank’s father, a dedicated public servant who worked in a variety of capacities under eight Baltimore City mayors. “We grew up in a household where community service was strongly encouraged,” says Frank. “That’s why I went into the legal profession—I saw it as an avenue to help people.” In addition to his service on the committee, Frank is a member of BCF’s Professional Advisor Recognition Society, a prestigious group of financial and legal advisors who have encouraged and advanced philanthropy in the Baltimore region.
In consultation with BCF’s then-director of gift planning, Frank gathered a paralegal colleague, an oncology doctor, and a nurse recruiter to discuss the benefits of various fund and grantmaking structures, as well as potential uses for the funds. The group established preliminary guidelines and goals, which Bertha then approved for inclusion in her estate plan.
When she passed away in 2021, the group reconvened, now with the knowledge that $2.5 million remained from the estate and would be established as an endowed fund with $125,000 available for grantmaking every year. “It’s nice to know it will have a permanent existence thanks to BCF,” says Frank. “I know Mr. and Mrs. Hoddinott would be very pleased.”
The group will meet to further refine the grantmaking guidelines this fall, taking into consideration such factors as the geographic location of individuals and institutions and the purposes, ranging from research stipends to intensive care programs to scholarships for doctors and nurses who want to specialize in oncology. The group hopes to emerge from that meeting with clear direction and will then codify the decisions with BCF to ensure the fund lives on in perpetuity according to the Hoddinotts’ wishes.
“Most of my clients don’t have the resources to establish private foundations, but it’s a relief to know that when something like this comes along, I know where to go,” says Frank. “The resources are there at BCF to help me help my clients, and I’m out there knowing that I can add to BCF’s mission.” ν