Be a good person. Do great work. Have an impact.
These are principles Chad Zagel and Ellie Frey Zagel live by and ultimately hope to be remembered for. Their estate plan is one of many ways they are demonstrating their love for their family and community.
Chad has spent more than a decade as a financial advisor with Edward Jones. The son of a small business owner, he is passionate about helping his clients be good stewards of their money. Chad also serves as City Commissioner for East Grand Rapids. Ellie has been an active philanthropist since the age of 15 and believes philanthropy brings out strong character in families and in people. She has dedicated her career to community, family business and family philanthropy. She is president and founder of Successful Generations and a third generation, vice chair and trustee of her family’s Grand Rapids based foundation, Frey Foundation.
It’s no surprise that Ellie and Chad’s son is getting an early start on making an impact in his community as well. He is inspiring family gifts to support activities he loves like Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and local parks.
Love for family
For Chad and Ellie, having an updated estate plan is how they are ensuring their family is completely cared for during their time of grieving. “You want your family to grieve and celebrate your life,” said Ellie. “You don’t want them to have to necessarily worry about the details of what goes where and how to manage the business side of your life.”
For Chad, it’s also about providing clarity for their loved ones. “There are so many questions being asked when you’re not here anymore by those who still are,” he said. “This is a way to make sure they’re not just wondering; asking, ‘I wonder if…’ or ‘I hope that I am honoring them in a way that would make them proud.’ This way, we’ve made it very clear and we’ve really made that final commitment to the community in saying ‘This is really what was important to me throughout my life.’”
Love for community
Chad and Ellie have been inspired by the passion and generosity shown by those who have come before them. “The reality is we have a lot to be thankful for in this community right now because people were making plans 20 to 30 years ago,” said Chad. “When you take a look at being able to have an impact beyond your lifetime, that’s where an organization like Grand Rapids Community Foundation really nails it. They’re going to continue to respond to the community’s needs. They’re bringing best practices to the table and have all the systems already set up and in place.”
While they do not know the issues West Michigan will face in the future, they see themselves as long term investors in the community and are committed to being a part of the solutions. “This is a community we really believe in; a community that has given our family so much,” said Ellie. “We don’t have a crystal ball, yet we are in it for the long haul.”
Love through change
As Chad and Ellie experience changes in their lives, their estate plan is adjusted accordingly. Ellie made provisions in her estate plan for a gift to the Community Foundation before meeting Chad. “Estate plans change,” she said. “It changed when I got married. It changed when I had a child. It will probably change again. Who knows? But the good news is the Community Foundation is still around and is still a keystone of my estate plan because of its long term vision for the community.”
Chad appreciates the flexibility of estate plans and the ability to adjust as needed to ensure they are leveraging the best resources and accounting for changes in tax law, their passions, needs and family situation. Chad and Ellie are living out their values each day by teaching their son, their family and their community the importance of being a good person, doing great work and having an impact. “I really believe in the values that this community has portrayed, so even when I am not here, I definitely want to have part of my legacy be a woman who loved her community and her family,” said Ellie.