Do you have a will? Have you thought about planning how your estate will be handled? We have an online tool designed to assist you.
Stewardship & Estate Planning
More than 70% of Americans do not have a current will. Why? Perhaps it has to do with the complexity of the process, the cost of documents, or the confusion of goals and objectives.
We, in conjunction with the Baptist Foundation of Alabama and PhilanthroCorp (a Christ-centered estate planning firm), have provided these interactive web pages to assist you in this important endeavor. The pages provide a wealth of information and assistance to develop an estate plan that reflects your values and goals, and also tax efficient current giving strategies.
The estate planning assistance includes referrals to Christian attorneys that offer discounted rates to draft all documents. Many people follow a simple two step process to utilize this service.
Overview of Estate Planning
Estate planning may be the single largest act of stewardship that most of us as Christians will ever perform.
Appropriate estate planning is beneficial to almost everyone. Whether we are nearing the end of our lives, contemplating retirement, or younger with a growing family, estate planning boils down to determining how, when, and to whom we will transfer the stewardship of what God has entrusted to us when we can no longer serve as stewards ourselves.
However, every year, the vast majority of Americans who die do so without having prepared a valid estate plan. For the past three decades, the numbers have been between 70 and 80 percent. This statistic is astounding, since the U.S. tax code provides significant incentives to prepare an estate plan. These incentives are designed to make it easy for very personal wishes to be known and followed—for instance, wishes that deal with child custody, property distribution, or leaving a legacy of Christian values. In addition, a careful estate plan will often minimize costs related to settling the estate.
What is it about the preparation and declaration of one's personal wishes - the essence of an estate plan - that Americans avoid in such resounding numbers?
Several typical reasons continually arise:
Distaste for Legal Documents
Many Americans seem to have a built-in dislike of legal documents. Such documents tend to be long and difficult to understand. However, compared to the legal intricacies of settling an estate without a plan, a well-defined estate plan is easy to prepare and understand. Most attorneys will gladly provide a summary of the contents of an estate plan to ensure that the documents meet your objectives.
Lack of Understanding of God's Directives for Stewardship
Throughout Scripture, you will find references that speak clearly about what we are to do with the resources God provides us. It is very important to understand God's Word on stewardship. "Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase;"- Proverbs 3:9 "But do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."- Hebrews 13:16
Life Gets in the Way
The single biggest reason people fail to prepare an estate plan may fall into the category of "life just gets in the way." For some, the day-to-day routine is "too busy" to develop an estate plan. For others, it is the idea that no one plans to die, or certainly, no one enjoys planning to die. Another group’s reason is "no one can know the future,” the notion that so much may change between today and the time of one’s death.
While all of the reasons for procrastinating are understandable, none lessens the reality that the absence of an estate plan can have a devastating impact on an estate and the remaining family members.
A proper estate plan should accomplish the following:
- Express God's plan for stewardship
- Transfer the assets with which God has entrusted you to individuals and charitable beneficiaries
- Transfer your estate in a tax-efficient manner with as little heartache, cost, and delay as possible
How to Get Started
A simple and effective way to get started on the process of obtaining an estate plan that reflects your goals and values is through our Estate Plan Organizer. Simply stated, the Estate Plan Organizer will take you through the estate planning process easily and at your own pace. The whole process can take as little as 30 minutes and you can save your work at any time and return to the Organizer at your convenience.
Afterwards, if you would like, you can send us your design and we will review it at no cost, and also provide you with some low-cost alternatives to get your estate plan drafted.
When you have completed the Organizer you will have a well thought out design for your estate that reflects your priorities.
You can also utilize your output from the Organizer to implement your design through an attorney you know or use it in conjunction with a wills software package that you purchase to create your own documents. (We do urge caution with the last approach.)
Alternatively, if you have questions about this very important project and would like to talk to someone over the phone, we would be glad to contact you.