Reclusive Entrepreneur Wills Fortune to Hometown

philanthopy, David ElkhartThe Fall 2013 Wall Street Journal Money Magazine has a very interesting article, “The Elkhart County Miracle” describing how  David Gundlach, a reclusive entrepreneur willed his entire $150 million fortune to his hometown, Elkhart Indiana and how the town is dealing with that bequest.

Gundlach died suddenly at age 56 of a heart attack. He was not married and had no children. His 93 year old mother survived him. Elkhart’s population is about 50,000. When he left his entire fortune to the Elkhart County Community Foundation the bequest included an original Salvador Dali sculpture, a March Chagall painting, 11 homes and 15 cars, including a Rolls Royce, two Bentleys and a Ferrari.

His bequest to the foundation was unrestricted; the foundation can use it any way it wants to. The director of the community foundation has gone on a “listening tour” of the community to find out what its citizens think should be done with the money.  Prior to making this bequest in his will, his Elkhart lawyer said he felt Gundlach had felt taken advantage of by the charities he had tried to work with and had some bad experiences trusting people.

He spent more and more time in his hometown. There is a lot of discussion about why he may have done this. Some say he knew he had heart problems and wanted to settle his affairs; others say the bequest to the foundation was a placeholder until his other philanthropic plans became more certain. Regardless of the reason, this bequest is certainly a unique transformative gift which will leave a significant impact for generations of Elkhart citizens to come.

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Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning.  She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about.  Annino recently released an updated version of her successful book, Women and Money: A Practical Guide to Estate Planning to include recent changes in the laws that govern how we protect our assets during and beyond our lifetime.  To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit,

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