4 Steps to making a bequest
Have you ever considered including a beloved ministry as part of your will or trust? We label these types of gifts “bequests,” and they provide an easy and powerful tool for making a significant gift to a ministry you care about deeply. Unlike the immediacy of a tithe, a bequest expresses an intention to make a future gift out of the resources the Lord has blessed you with over your entire lifetime. Bequests typically name your children and can also extend to important ministries like your church. Here are four simple steps to establishing an effective estate plan and making a bequest to ministry:
Begin with prayer. As with any important decision on how to steward the resources God has blessed you with, prayer lays the groundwork for wise, biblically-based decisions. Never begin a planning process without first asking the Holy Spirit to guide you.
Identify the people most important to you and the types of responsibilities you may have to them. Parents typically begin with their spouse and quickly move to their children, and grandchildren. Singles often start with parents and then consider siblings and nieces. However, the list of people shouldn’t stop there. No matter what their structure, ministries ultimately revolve around people, those serving and those being served. Ministries evangelize the lost, offer mercy to the sinner, serve the poor, and bring justice to the oppressed to name a few. The core of this process involves drawing a circle around the people, both near and far, for whom God has charged you with a moral responsibility to love and support.
Itemize the property over which you will have control at the end of your life. While this may appear to be a tedious and even worldly process, it can often be a time of joy and reflection on God’s incredible blessing in your life. It may also serve as a wake-up call to how you manage your resources now. How would you feel if got to the end of your life and you found that the credit card interest you paid to Bank of America exceeded what you could give to the real people and ministries about which you are truly passionate? The nice thing is that your list of property values does not have to precise. You only need to arrive a reasonable estimates sufficient to move on to the next step in the process. As you go through this process you may find yourself rejoicing at how the Lord has blessed you with a valuable home or business, resources that may be difficult to share in your life, but can become significant sources of blessing to other people at the end of your life.
Initiate the planning process with a planner and appropriate legal documents to implement your wishes. For purposes of a bequest you may involve a financial planner, a lawyer, and/or a stewardship adviser. Legal documents typically involve a will or a revocable trust, and these documents are incredibly flexible, accommodating plans for even the most complex interplay between the people you care about and the property have to share. While the details of these plans can take time and effort to develop, identifying the key people who will help carry out your plans after you are gone may be even more important. Once you finish the planning process, the final stage is executing your legal documents, safeguarding the documents, and periodically reviewing them as your life circumstances change. For example, parents of young children have a deep moral responsibility to provide for their children until they can support themselves. However, once children become adults and move out on their own, parents may revisit their plans to add other people or change the relative distributions among the individuals and ministries already there.
If you would like to begin the process for establishing a bequest, some sample bequest language might help you. Consider the following simple wording you could share with your planning professional.
“I give, devise, and bequeath ____% of the rest, residue, and remainder of my estate to The Wesleyan Church located in Fishers, Indiana.”
You can also modify this to make the gift of a specific dollar amount, substitute a different ministry, or add more ministry recipients to share in the bequest. For more information please contact us.