The Power of Planning


Helping people enjoy their lives is what drives the work of Melissa (Anderson) Duffy ’91

As a Financial Advisor, Managing Director, and one of two Founders for White Pine Wealth Management based in Falmouth, Maine, Melissa Duffy ’91, P’24 doesn’t punch out at the end of the day. Clients rely on her to help them plan for the future—a task she doesn’t take lightly. “It’s a career you do around the clock,” she said. With 30 years of experience, Duffy joined White Pine, a financial partner of Hightower, in 2015, and the team of 10 manages just shy of $1 billion. Both Forbes and Barron’s included her among its top wealth advisors by state in 2023. “It’s rewarding to see people enjoying their lives with their families, not because of the assets they have, but because they’ve taken control with our help,” she said.

This enjoyment often includes giving back to the world. Duffy collaborates with her clients and their estate attorneys to craft gift and estate plans, which sometimes means earmarking funds for charitable organizations they care about, including schools like Williston. “If you are lucky enough to have accumulated wealth, giving money to charity in your estate plan reduces how much your estate will owe in taxes,” she said. Prior to White Pine, Duffy co-founded Duffy Anderson Investment Management, LLC, a $300 million asset management firm, in 2008. Duffy, proud parent of Teagan ’24, returned to Williston during Reunion last June to deliver a talk to the Elm Tree Society about the importance of planned giving and estate planning. Here are five takeaways.


Melissa’s Tips for Financial Planning

Financial planning is for everybody. Creating an estate plan will help you reach long-term goals, no matter your income level and even if you’re far from retirement. “When people think about estate planning and planned giving, they think it’s only for the super wealthy,” Duffy said. “It’s something everyone can benefit from.”

Small gifts go a long way.
Whether large or small—every contribution matters. “Gifting does not need to be huge amounts of money,” Duffy said. “Any organization, including Williston, would welcome the opportunity to be in someone’s estate plan, even if it’s for a thousand dollars.”

It’s not too late—or too early.
Duffy urges Wildcats to be proactive by creating a will or estate plan sooner rather than later. “Either you’re going to make a plan, or the IRS is going to make your plan for you,” she said. “I think people would rather choose the charitable organizations they give to, rather than the government deciding for them. The cost involved to get your estate plan in order with an estate attorney is very small compared to what the lack of planning will cost you.”

Paper trails are essential.
Ensure your family knows where to find the documents related to your estate plan. “If something happens, can your attorney and financial advisor be easily contacted?” Duffy said. “Because we’re in a digital era now, this also includes being transparent about where you keep your passwords for online accounts.”

Candidness is key.
“Talking about finances can be tough to do with your children, but being transparent is important,” she said. “You can even have your attorney or accountant in the room so you can share the plan and everyone can be on the same page.”