Harris Pitnof began his career as a radio operator at a station in Chatham. Despite the odds, he wanted to become a professional pilot and put himself through flight training, eventually working at American Airlines for 29 years.
After his parents passed away, Harris was struck by the challenges involved in executing their estates. Not having children of his own, he recognized the difficulty that selling a house would present for his sister and family upon his death and he didn’t want it to become a burden.
He also thought of the need faced by so many in Rhode Island. “I’ve been very, very fortunate,” he says. “As I’ve gotten older, it occurred to me that there are a lot of people who don’t have the good fortune that I do.”
Working with his lawyer, Harris established a revocable living trust which included the house. The Food Bank was made the beneficiary of the trust so when Harris passes away, ownership of the house is immediately transferred.
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Then it becomes the Food Bank’s responsibility to sell the house, benefiting from all of the proceeds.
His lawyer also advised him to move most of his possessions and estate outside of his will, so it would simply go where he wanted it without dealing with probate. In addition to creating the trust, Harris designated the Food Bank as a partial beneficiary of one of his brokerage accounts with Fidelity Investments.
“The day I’m gone, without dealing with courts and judges, the Food Bank takes ownership of the house.”
Harris sees the arrangement as a win-win; relieving his family of the trouble of dealing with the house while providing food assistance for Rhode Islanders who need it.