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Published on May 07, 2018

Paying it forward through planned giving

Paying it forward through planned giving

As Paul and Chris Greeley of West Yarmouth approached their 50th wedding anniversary this year, they decided it was time to think about their future, the rest of their lives, and how their legacy could benefit and impact others.

The couple viewed this milestone as a good time to start talking about healthcare proxies, power of attorney and organizations they could financially support as part of their estate plan.

“Paul and I looked at what was important and meaningful in our lives and the organizations we had supported with our time and energy,” said Chris. “One of the categories on our list was hospitals that have had an important impact on the lives of members of our family.”

“We came to the conclusion that Cape Cod Hospital was definitely one we wanted to include in our will,” said Paul.

They looked at their decision as an investment in the future of healthcare. From their vantage point of having a home within walking distance of the hospital and donating time as volunteers with the Cape Cod Hospital Auxiliary, they have seen firsthand how changes have benefited the community.

“We’ve seen the hospital go through an amazing transformation in the past 30 years with the physical structure, services, expansion of the cardiac program, and the emergency center,” said Paul.

Having the Conversation

Though talking about wills, healthcare proxies and end-of-life decisions is not easy, the couple feel it is important to have the conversation. They did some initial research to find out how to go about the process. This included legal advice, inquiries with the Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation about planned giving options, and the book “Five Wishes,” that helps families begin their discussions about end-of-life healthcare decisions.

“We sat down with our only child, our daughter, and had the discussion about all of this,” said Chris. “It was difficult for her because she didn’t want to think of us dying. Yet, it’s the kind of conversation we really wanted to have with her, so there would be an understanding of what we wanted and what she wanted. This is an important piece I think families tend to avoid.”

While their goal was to make their wishes known in all aspects of their lives, the couple found a few aspects that surprised them as they went through the process of estate planning.

“For us, there was an estate tax benefit to supporting charity through our will that we didn’t know about,” said Paul. “Lastly, it feels good to have a plan. We feel our financial future is in place even through death, and we don’t have worries about that aspect anymore.”

By sharing their gift intentions with the Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation, the Greeleys are recognized as members of Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation’s Beacon Society. The society is open to anyone who has made a commitment to benefit Cape Cod Healthcare in the future through bequests, trusts, charitable gift annuities, pooled income funds and insurance.

Volunteering and caring for others has been the hallmark of Paul and Chris’s relationship from the beginning. “Doing social service is how we met and that was the start of our lives together,” said Chris who met Paul as a student at Northeastern University in Boston in the late 60’s. They both enjoyed donating their time back then helping people in the surrounding community.

They haven’t strayed far from their roots as they continue to plan ways to improve lives by paying it forward.

For more information on the Beacon Society and gift planning options visit or contact Nancy Leanues, Executive Director of Gift Planning at 508-862-7627;