Magazine Fall 2023 Use Your Will to Craft Your Legacy

by Sharon Savely Odegaard ’72

A will involves so much more than a legal document; it’s a testament to your values, dreams and the legacy you wish to leave behind.

“Writing a will can be an emotional process,” says Steve Davis, Westmont’s assistant vice president of gift planning and transformational philanthropy. “Sometimes it takes six months to a year to get into the right emotional state.” To make this process easier, Davis has joined with FreeWill, a company that allows people associated with Westmont to draw up or change their will online free of charge. The forms take as little as 20 minutes to complete as you sit in the comfort of your own home.

“An amazing 68 percent of adults lack a will,” Davis says. He sees FreeWill as a way to support donors, alums and grandparents by making it simpler to formulate a will or trust. That way, people can specify who will inherit their estate and make provisions for their family.

The FreeWill application ( also features a tool for remembering Westmont or other nonprofit organizations for those who want to support institutions important to them. FreeWill makes this easy to do.

When drawing up a will, people may be concerned about the longevity of the charities they support. “At age 86, Westmont is certainly enduring,” Davis says. “We’re planning on being around for centuries. Donors who wish to include Westmont in their will can have peace of mind about the college’s continued existence.”

Anyone who makes a provision for Westmont in their will or estate becomes a member of the Wallace Emerson Society. “The Gift Planning Office can counsel Wallace Emerson Society members about taxes and other issues related to estate planning,” Davis says. “It’s great to have that established, ongoing relationship with them. When changes occur in their lives, we can work with members and help them think through what they want to happen with their estate.”

Can people leave a gift for a specific purpose or department of Westmont? “Yes, we’ll work with you to make your intentions clear,” Davis says. “Your estate gift will be used the way you specify.”

Davis approaches gift planning from a financial perspective with a pastoral heart. He sees his job at Westmont as blending fundraising and ministry. Let Davis and his office know if you include a gift to Westmont in your estate planning. Not only will you benefit from financial advice, but you’ll also enjoy attending the annual Wallace Emerson Society appreciation luncheon during Homecoming.

A will involves so much more than a legal document; it’s a testament to your values, dreams and the legacy you wish to leave behind. Now you have an easy way to make sure yours is just the way you want it.