One of the most satisfying parts of Ellsworth estate attorney Sally Mills’ work is helping charitable individuals who have relocated to Maine find ways to apply their philanthropic passions in their new home. In a recent conversation with Jennifer Southard, Maine CF vice president, donor services and gift planning, Mills shared the story of one such person whose philanthropy is supporting Maine’s future.
MaineCF: How do you bring up the topic of charitable giving with your clients?
Sally Mills: In any kind of estate planning interview, I use a standard questionnaire that includes a question about charitable giving. If the client gives any indication that it is a possible interest, I follow up. On top of that, I have no problem bringing up the topic with my clients.
MaineCF: Do you find people get uncomfortable talking about charitable giving?
Mills: It can be uncomfortable talking about money, period, and talking about any aspect of estate planning can at times be awkward. Aside from that, there’s nothing particularly difficult about discussing charitable giving.
I practice law in Hancock County, a particularly beautiful part of Maine. Some of my clients are “from away.” They move or retire here to start again, bringing with them diverse interests and affiliations with charitable organizations from their previous home states. I find that by asking questions, I can sometimes help clients translate those interests and apply them here. They want to give back and be part of the local community; charitable giving is one of the many ways in which that can happen.
MaineCF: Can you share a story about a client you referred to the Maine Community Foundation?
Mills: I worked with an individual who wanted to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM] education in Maine, but we didn’t know what shape that desire would ultimately take. Working with the community foundation allowed us to put seed money in place and gave us a flexible way to access it while the project was under development. That germ of an idea became the Reach Center, whose goal is to be a hub of information about STEM education and events in Maine and a place to connect students all across the state.
I am one of many handmaidens who helped launch this initiative: taking a wonderful idea, trying to identify the right folks to get it off the ground, putting it all in some kind of legal wrapper, and then letting it do its thing. The Reach Center is a perfect example of how a partnership with the community foundation can help a great idea take off and become reality.
Sally Mills grew up in Blue Hill, Maine. After college, she lived in England for 15 years, working as a solicitor of England and Wales for a large U.S. law firm. Since returning to Maine and joining the Ellsworth firm of Hale & Hamlin, Mills has developed a general practice, with an emphasis on estate planning, real estate, and family law. She is a member of the Maine State Bar Association and the Law Society of England and Wales. She is a fellow and director of the Maine Bar Foundation, serves as a trustee of Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, and is a member of the American Hospital Association’s Committee on Governance.