When her daughter Sonya was diagnosed with autism, Zoreen Ansari, a family physician, was given a negative outlook from autism experts. “When they told me Sonya would never walk or talk, I told them I would go to the ends of the Earth to make sure she could.” And she did. Sonya now lives independently in a group home not far from her parents. But it wasn’t easy, including the financial challenges of caring for Sonya. “When I first met with our Private Wealth Advisor, he started asking me questions about Sonya,” Zoreen says. “I was a little offended. But now I’m glad he asked.” The line of questioning proved invaluable. Sonya was about to gain access to a trust in her name that had been established by a previous firm. But that trust didn’t incorporate Sonya’s need for certain services — services Sonya would have lost if she had gained access to the existing trust. After much hard work and collaboration on a new trust, Sonya retained her benefits, and she would still be financially stable in the future. A few times each year, the Ansaris — Rafat, Zoreen, Sonya and their two other children, Adam and Sarah (both lawyers) — gather to discuss the family finances.
This stability gave the Ansaris the freedom to focus on their legacy. “We want to give something back to humanity,” says Rafat. To do so, they gave a significant gift to the University of Notre Dame to create the Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion. The goal is to study the similarities and roles of religions and their impact on the public sphere around the world. After discussing the situation with their Private Wealth Advisor and their children, they knew they could move ahead with confidence. “We’re not billionaires,” says Rafat. “Some of this money would have been our children’s money. But they realize this institute is a legacy for us.” “All of this is what we wanted,” Rafat continues. “We’ve gained in our financial strength. We’ve established estate planning for our children. We’ve established the program at Notre Dame.” Zoreen agrees. “We feel taken care of, as a whole.”