Considerable Accomplishments, Clear Intentions: A Young Alum Makes Her Will
Composer, pianist and Juilliard alumna Wendy Fang Chen is a young woman of considerable accomplishment. A graduate of Juilliard's Pre-College Division in both piano and composition, Wendy received her Bachelor of Music degree in 1994 studying composition with David Diamond, and piano with Herbert Stessin, then went on to attain her master's degree, again as a double major in piano and composition. After graduation, Wendy served as a member of the administrative staff at Juilliard, where she was Associate Director of Career Development and co-taught the Career Development Seminar.
To all of these Juilliard connections, she added one more by becoming the youngest member of the Augustus Juilliard Society. Although many believe making a will is prudent regardless of age, most people do not take the task in hand until much later in life. Karen Raven, Juilliard's director of major and planned gifts, talked with Wendy about her decision to make a will and to include Juilliard in her planning.
KR: What prompted you to make an estate plan at this point in your life?
WFC: My husband and I were expecting our first baby and we wanted to be certain our child was provided for if something happened to us.
KR: What were the steps involved for you? How did the process work?
WFC: We wanted to make our will, appoint someone to have power of attorney and create a living will. First we talked with family members who have already drawn wills, asking them questions, and then we met with a lawyer who discussed the important issues we needed to think about including questions like who would be guardians of our children if something were to happen to us, who would be the executor and trustee, and when would the children inherit our money. The questions helped us think about issues we might not have thought about. We then took some time to discuss these issues and ask the people if they would agree to be a guardian or executor. Finally, we met again with the lawyer to make it official and signed the documents.
KR: Did you and your husband decide from the outset to include charitable gifts in your will, or did that idea come at some point during the process?
WFC: I suppose it came up during the process since most people do not usually think about what they're going to do with their money if they were to pass. We do give to charity every year to organizations that are close to our heart, so it seemed right to make contributions through our wills too.
KR: And what made you decide to include Juilliard?
WFC: Juilliard is a second home to me. I have been affiliated with The Juilliard School since 1977 and have benefited so much from the School. It is part of my family.
KR: Your bequest is specified for a scholarship in the Pre-College Division. What compelled you to direct your philanthropic energies there?
WFC: I spent eleven years as a student, and three years as a faculty member in the Pre-College Division. My mentors encouraged and helped me to become who I am today, as did all the opportunities my Pre-College experience offered me. Because of this I feel especially close to the Pre-College educational process.
KR: What do you hope your gift to Juilliard might accomplish one day?
WFC: I hope to help students benefit from the same environment that I cherished.
KR: And what do you hope for your children? How will you introduce them to music, which has been so much a part of your own life?
WFC: We want to expose our children to the many wonderful things that are out there to explore, including music, but to ultimately let them choose what interests them, and to encourage and support their decisions in their course of life. Our children have been immersed in music since the beginning (babies can hear in the womb) and we sing and play for them, as well as introduce the arts, sports, and all the wonders life has to offer!