Charitable Estate Planning
Q: Your articles on stewardship have been very insightful, so I thought you might be able to help my husband and me with our estate planning. We want to be wise about passing on what the Lord has entrusted to us, but we have no idea where to begin. Can you offer us some advice?
A: As a Christian, I’m sure you want to please God in all you do. Charitable estate planning could be your single largest act of stewardship. There are, of course, many scriptures you can draw on to shape your planning process, but I’ll share just two: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (Ps. 24:1). Everything is God’s; we are simply His stewards. Some day we’ll all give an account to God for what He has entrusted to our care. That is why it is wise to, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 1:2). We should think about everything from an eternal perspective.
With those scriptures to guide you, here are some first steps in estate planning: First, compile a list of your assets that you have not already laid up in heaven (vehicles, real estate, securities, insurance policies, retirement accounts, bank accounts, collectibles, business assets and so on). Then make a separate list of all your debt/liabilities (credit card debt, bank loans, mortgages, leases). Next, gather all of the corresponding documents (policies, statements, deeds) and file all of them together in one place. If you can’t file all of those documents in one location, identify where the records are located on a master document so your loved ones can easily find them. This is also a good time to organize other personal documents, such as birth certificates, marriage license, medical records, tax returns and other legal documents.
Following these basic first steps can save your loved ones much trouble and anxiety.
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