John Vucurevich really believes that you can't take it with you.

So he's giving it back.

In an unusual move, the 84-year-old owner of 13 midwestern and western community banks has willed that his majority holdings be placed in a charitable trust after he dies.

Once his family is taken care of, Mr. Vucurevich wants all dividends donated back to the banks' communities in Montana, South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

"I started with nothing, and I'm going to leave with nothing," said the spirited Mr. Vucurevich, who owns almost 90% of two Billings, Mont.-based multibank holding companies, United Bancorp. and Citizens Development Co. The companies have $650 million of assets, combined.

"The most wonderful people that I have been associated with made this possible," he said, "and I feel that's where the money should go."

With the two holding companies earning a total of $8 million in net income last year, Mr. Vucurevich said his trust would have had at least $4 million to $5 million available for donations next year were it to be effective now.

"That's above and beyond the call," said Kevin B. Tynan, president of Tynan Marketing Inc., Chicago. "That's real commitment to the community. It's the ultimate marketing campaign when you can implement it from beyond the grave. You can't beat it."

The trust, which has already been established in Mr. Vucurevich's home of Rapid City, S.D., will be administered by a four-person board, including three of Mr. Vucurevich's relatives and one close friend. No specific charities have been designated in the 13 communities. Mr. Vucurevich said the foundation will also be authorized to contribute money in other communities, "if there's a need."

To some extent the banks are already in the charity business. For the past five years, they have contributed 5% of their pretax income to local charities-about $600,000 per year. And the trust itself has been able to make very small donations already with limited assets.

Mr. Vucurevich has owned more than 40 banks since he began investing in 1953 with his purchase of Rushmore State Bank-for $18,000. He remained in control of the banks until just two years ago, when he turned over management to James D. Bennett, chairman and chief executive officer of both companies.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.