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PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE: Diane Wajtanowicz wants Prairie Farm and her community of Rice to thrive well into the future.

Farming the Future

For Diane Wojtanowicz, a planned giving program will support the local causes and community that have shaped her life.    

By Gene Rebeck  |  Photography by Michael Schoenecker

Diane Wojtanowicz knows a great deal about maintaining a legacy. She represents the fourth-generation ownership of Prairie Farm Co. in Rice, north of St. Cloud. Her operation is one of the largest potato producers in the state; Prairie Farm also raises kidney beans and corn.

It’s a legacy that Wojtanowicz wants to pass on to her six children and her home region. That’s why, about a year ago, Wojtanowicz went to visit her estate planner, attorney Lee Hanson. She was looking for ways to protect some of her assets from taxation after her death.

Hanson, a principal with the St. Cloud office of Minneapolis-based law firm Gray Plant Mooty and a specialist in tax planning, had just the solution for his client. “She has a strong charitable intent, and a strong civic intent,” Hanson said. “She has served on numerous civic, business and charitable boards. She has a strong attitude about giving back to her community.”

Working with his colleague Betsy Whitlatch, an associate attorney specializing in estate planning, Hanson crafted a way to make an estate gift out of two of the individual retirement accounts (IRAs) Wojtanowicz holds. This planned giving program will provide benefits for her estate and the community she holds dear. 

A beneficiary contribution plan “is one of the most efficient ways to give away your IRA money,” said Hanson, an Emeritus Trustee with the Initiative Foundation. “That’s because you avoid all income taxes on your IRA, which otherwise is subject to a full ordinary income tax. So she’d lose half of this money.”

What’s more, the money from those two IRAs will go to causes close to Wojtanowicz’s heart—health care and education. One of the beneficiaries is CentraCare Health Foundation, which supports educational programs, research and services where the health system operates.

The beneficiary of the other IRA is the Sauk Rapids-Rice Education Foundation (SRREF). Founded in 2012, SRREF provides opportunities for all students to excel by funding projects that fall outside the district’s normal operating budget. SRREF itself has two funds: one that addresses immediate equipment needs, and another endowment designed to fund broader programs. SSREF grants have supported summer garden planting, hands-on programs in science and technology and mentor connections that open students’ minds to potential career paths. 

It was a nonprofit Wojtanowicz knew well, having served the foundation as an officer. SSREF is one of the 100-plus Partner Funds hosted by the Initiative Foundation. These funds let families, businesses, nonprofit organizations and volunteer-led groups build endowments that can contribute to the health of their communities. In 2017, Partner Fund grants with a combined value of nearly $850,000 supported education, recreation, environmental improvements and community enhancements throughout the region. 

Wojtanowicz has other IRAs, and will continue to receive distributions from them during her retirement years. And, she’ll be leaving Prairie Farm Co. to the next generation of her family. Through her planned giving program, she’ll also be passing on a legacy of commitment to her community.

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