In The News... | Sharpe Group
Posted May 1st, 1999

In The News…

Unlikely millionaire bequeaths $3 million

Karl Hagen did not seem like a millionaire. His clothes came from thrift stores. He lived a modest, reclusive life. He worked for 36 years as a maintenance foreman for the Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco). But when Hagen passed away in March at the age of 89, he left an estate worth approximately $3 million to three charitable organizations that had special meaning for him–the Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins University, the National Air and Space Museum, and the National Geographic Society.

Hagen, who never married, began amassing his fortune in the 1940s when he made an initial investment of $5,000 in Pepco stock. He also made an early investment in the Marriott Corporation. Hagen’s stock savvy continued over his lifetime. His last stock purchase, a high-tech issue, in November 1998 quickly doubled.

Hagen’s interest in Johns Hopkins came about after he was treated at Wilmer for macular degeneration, a disease of the retina. During his lifetime Hagen gave his family farm to the Institute and funded the Karl H. Hagen professorship in ophthalmology.

Hagen, who frequently visited the Air and Space Museum, had also previously given the Museum a World War I German parade helmet that was a family heirloom.

Hagen loved to travel and, according to friends, took many trips based on exotic places he read about in National Geographic. He went on a safari in Africa and took trips to Tahiti, Japan, Bora Bora, New Zealand, and Australia.

The institutions were notified of Hagen’s bequest intentions more than a year ago when Hagen was age 88.

Source: The Washington Post, March 24, 1999

Stats show most Americans own stocks

As the Dow surpassed a record 10,000 in March and continues to rise, many middle-class Americans are wrapped up in the process. According to data from a USA TODAY/Gallup poll, 61% of Americans have investments in stocks or mutual funds. Other research shows that 38% of all U.S. household financial assets are in the stock market, while 44% of households own mutual funds.

Many working Americans are also in the stock market thanks to their 401(k) retirement plans. Today there are approximately 36 million participants in 401(k) plans–in 1984 that number was only 7.5 million. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the estimated 200,000 401(k) plans currently hold $1 trillion in assets. The broad ownership of stocks and mutual funds that have appreciated greatly in value may translate into increased opportunity for gifts through charitable remainder trusts, gift annuities, and other gift planning vehicles that result in meaningful gifts while converting highly appreciated, low-yielding assets into a supplemental source of income.

Source: USA TODAY, March 30, 1999

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