Wills, Trusts & Other Tools
As Christian stewards, our first estate planning task is to determine how God wants us to use His resources during our lifetime. We must also consider His plan for asset transfers at death. God’s word contains principles that give us guidance, and by following them, we can often avoid unnecessary costs, delays, and potential family conflict.
START WITH BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES
Principle #1: God is the Owner of All
God is the owner of all, not just 1/10th or the small portion we return back to Him in the weekly offering. The Scripture is plain that God created this Earth and all that it contains (Psalm 24:1-2). As the Creator and Sustainer—He is also the Owner (Psalm 50:10-12). In the New Testament, we read that we have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). That the price was the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:17-19).
Principle #2: Our Roles Consist of Manager, Caretaker, Trustee, and Steward
Since we cannot be owners, our roles consist of manager, caretaker, trustee, and steward. God willingly places His assets into our care expecting that we will seek His best interest (Matthew 5:16) through the prudent use of our time (Ephesians 5:15-17), our abilities (Romans 12:1-8), and our financial resources (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
Principle #4: Our Blessings Are Intended to be Shared
Our blessings are intended to be shared during this lifetime and at the time of our death (2 Corinthians 8 & 9; Galatians 6:3 & 9-10; Ephesians 4:28). Planned giving and estate design helps maximize the use of God’s resources to benefit ourselves and others during lifetime, our personal beneficiaries, and beloved ministries at the time of death. They can also help us pay fewer dollars in taxes—instead of directing those dollars to our church and favorite ministries.
4 STEPS TO ESTATE PLANNING STEWARDSHIP SUCCESS
- Setting priorities by following Biblical principles.
- Learning planning strategies & tools: legal documents (wills, trusts, powers of attorney), charitable tax-planning, and planned giving resources.
- Gathering necessary data for the people and property of your plan.
- Working with professionals—a team that will help prepare and implement a quality plan.
May we help you review or create an estate plan that can meet your needs, provide for your family and favorite ministries, and honor the principles God has given in His word? Good news, we have prepared a practical Estate Planning Guide
that you can download here
. If you would like to speak with someone regarding your unique situation—please contact us
PLANNING TOOLS FOR CHRISTIAN STEWARDS
Wills and Revocable Living Trusts
Wills and revocable living trusts are often considered the foundational documents for estate planning and distribution.
A will is a document that expresses the final distribution desires of an individual. Wills are subject to state law and nearly always require the involvement of the probate court where they become public documents. A will distributes only property that was titled solely in the name of the deceased.
A revocable living trust is a confidential document that can be established by an individual or a couple. The trust provides management of assets during lifetime and final distributions at death. It avoids the probate process on assets that are titled to the trust during lifetime.
Power of Attorney
Power of Attorney gives another individual the legal ability to make decisions on your behalf. They are important when an individual is disabled and cannot manage their business and/or medical affairs. You may establish a separate power for property decisions, as well as, one for medical and health care decisions.
Titling must be coordinated with your other legal documents to assure that your planning desires are accomplished. Titling can be a very useful way to transfer assets or it can be the fly in the ointment that creates havoc in your plans.
Beneficiary designations can often be used to transfer assets to desired beneficiaries with minimal cost and delay. Some assets, like life insurance and qualified retirement accounts, have built-in beneficiary arrangements. Many other financial instruments and tangible assets can also be transferred, without probate, by beneficiary arrangement.