In his Will he forgave debts, gave homes and lands, paintings and books, money and businesses to his family, posterity, charity, friends and strangers. His Will was written in 1788 and was updated in 1789. In his update he stated, “I wish to be useful even after death, if possible in forming and advancing other young men, that may be serviceable to their country…” Thus Franklin decided to give back to the cities that helped him succeed, namely, the city of Boston and Philadelphia, and their states, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, respectively. He did so by setting up a trust that would accrue interest and grow for two centuries!
Franklin died April 17, 1790. The first half was distributed in 1870 and the remainder reached maturity a hundred years later in 1970! Ellen White says, “if by our example we aid others in the development of good principles, we give them power to do good. In their turn they exert the same beneficial influence over others. Thus hundreds and thousands are helped by our unconscious influence. The true follower of Christ strengthens all good with whom he comes in contact.” Patriarchs and Kings Pg. 348.
Unfortunately, most Americans (including Christians) do not have an estate plan. Doing so is not only our patriotic heritage, but it can save from unnecessary frustration and be a boom to others. And remember, updating is just as important. So which part of Franklin's legacy did you think is most influential, his example or his bequest?