It can be unsettling to think about how your loved ones will carry on without you. In fact, since so many Americans have successfully eluded the topic, scarcely a third of us have a legal will in place—often leaving the distribution of our assets to the government as a result.
It’s About Stewardship
You can’t control when or how you leave this life, but you can control the legacy you leave behind.According to Chuck Knox, Vice President of Ministry Advancement/Planned Giving at Church Extension Plan, “You don’t have to be wealthy for an estate plan to be an important part of your commitment to good stewardship. Not one of us is guaranteed a tomorrow.” A good steward appreciates God’s many gifts, manages them faithfully, and uses his or her energy to provide for family and community—both now and in the future.
“Estate planning isn’t about wealth,” says Chuck. “It’s about stewardship. What everyone should know.” By practicing basic Christian stewardship principles, you’ll ensure your family members are carefully provided for even in your absence.
Step 1: Take Stock
Chuck says the first step towards developing your estate plan is to make two lists—what you have and who you want to benefit. Do you have treasured heirlooms, investments, or real estate? These assets should be added to the “what” list. Do you have a child with special needs or a cause you’re passionate about? Add them to the “who” list. You don’t have to make all your decisions right away. Just capture the information so you have a place to start. This is usually the hardest step.
Step 2: Create a Will
Everyone over the age of 18 needs a will. It prevents costly legal proceedings, makes sure your wishes are followed correctly, and gives family and friends a sense of comfort. Whether the estate plan is simple or complex, a signed will is the first step toward true financial stewardship.
The average will may cost up to $500 to prepare. While it may seem like a significant amount of money, it’s nothing compared to the thousands of dollars your heirs could spend managing the legal tangles should your estate wind up in court. Make the investment now; minimize the problems later.
Step 3: Use the Free Planning Tools
Aside from a will, other elements of a well-planned estate may depend on your family circumstances.There are a variety of ways to provide security for your family, ensure your healthcare decisions are properly implemented, and maximize your gifts to your church and other charitable organizations well into the future. Church Extension Plan has tools to help. Call and ask for CEP’s free Wills Kit.