As world leaders gather in New York City for this week’s United Nations climate summit, media coverage of the event has been peppered with discussions of socially responsible investing. One of the country’s largest philanthropic organizations, the $860 million Rockefeller Brothers Fund, plans to announce at the summit that it intends to divest itself of all fossil fuel investments. The Rockefeller family fortune, for those who remember their Gilded Age history, originated with John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, but the fund’s current trustees have concluded that investing in fossil fuels is both contrary to the foundation’s present values and potentially a bad long-term investment.
A growing number of businesses and economists are arguing that as fossil fuels decline, other areas of the economy will thrive. NPR reports that Ikea, for example, has invested in solar and wind energy and is committed to selling only the most energy-efficient light bulbs.
Rockefellers aren’t alone in riding the wave of socially responsible investing. Last week, I attended an Estate Planning Council of Seattle dinner where the evening’s speaker addressed how socially responsible investing has evolved over the past 20 years. Some investors are, like the Rockefellers, interested in joining the divestment movement – selling off portions of their portfolios invested in companies that are engaged in practices contrary to their values. Others prefer to invest their money in funds or companies that reflect their values, such as microfinance, wind or solar energy, or those supporting women-owned businesses in the developing world.
And it’s not just megafoundations like the Rockefellers getting involved in socially responsible investing. It’s possible to instruct a trustee of a testamentary trust, such as a children’s trust, to invest the funds in ways that reflect your values. Considering incorporating socially responsible investment strategies in your estate plan? Or, what about making some charitable gifts in your Will? Your estate plan is an important part of your legacy, so it needs to align with your values. We’re happy to help.
This post is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting with an attorney.