A Q&A with Professional Advisor partner Alma Soongi Beck

A Q&A with Professional Advisor partner Alma Soongi Beck

Alma S. Beck

Alma Soongi Beck is a practicing attorney and advisor and a valued member of the Professional Advisor Council at The San Francisco Foundation. With more than 16 year experience, she most recently works with the LGBTQ community on their estate planning and related legal needs including charitable giving.

We took a few moments to connect with Alma to discuss how she partners with the foundation and to hear some of her advice for attorneys and advisors with clients that are thinking about their charitable interests.

How does partnering with the Foundation add value to the work with your clients?

I have clients who have a general idea of a cause or organization they care about, but may not exactly know the best way of supporting it. For me, this is a sign to call the Foundation to have them be a resource to my clients. Most clients don’t have time or connections to track how certain organizations are doing or to conduct research on it, so I love referring them to someone who is doing good work and has their hand on the pulse of nonprofit work in the Bay Area.

What are some examples that illustrate how you have partnered with us?

I think about the Foundation as a professional partner with a strong reputation. When I started working with the LGBTQ community, same sex couples did not have a  marital deduction from estate or gift taxes.  So in many of these cases, we explored other tax savings options, such as charitable trust planning, and Donor Advised Funds played a strong role in those conversations where an irrevocable charitable trust was contemplated, but where the clients did not know whether their organizations of choice would still be doing the same kind of work years down the line. Having the Foundation as an option for a current or testamentary Donor Advised Fund provided the flexibility that made these planning options more workable for our clients.

What additional ideas or information do you think would be helpful for advisors and attorneys like yourself?

There is a wide variety of people interested in charitable giving,  people who come from different classes and backgrounds and have different interests and ideas about their assets. It is important to meet people where they are to help them keep moving toward their estate planning and charitable goals, but not rush them. In some cases, they like the idea of planned charitable giving, but don’t know where to start.  In other cases, they have vast experience with charitable giving, but don’t have the time or resource to keep track of how the organizations are doing. These are prime examples of where we have use The San Francisco Foundation as a resource, to help our clients focus and provide the expertise and understanding that helps them make the kind of decisions that work for them.

For additional questions about the Professional Advisor network, please contact Sara Dermody at sdermody@sff.org or 415.733.8543.