Don't forget - do your will! Christine Sponchia@pixabay
OK, maybe last week I was a little too jocular thinking about death. The exclamation point in the title might be a tad too flippant. The crow photo might have been a little over the top. Especially now when I read that nearly the entire White House and everyone who had some contact with those people are coming down with COVID-19. Seriously, I was only kidding! I take death super seriously! Really!
However, I do hope you – and all the people who are in the White House – have your proverbial affairs in order. Last week, the topic was on advance health directives; the paperwork you’ll need to have in place if for some health-related reason you cannot advocate for yourself.
This week, it’s time for wills and a little on trusts. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about wills. Check out these posts: Legacy Giving: Love that Low-Hanging Fruit, Part 1 and Part 2. In addition to wills, almost all financial advisors and estate lawyers recommend that you also set up a trust.
I’ll let Suze Orman explain the difference between a will and a trust:
“A will lays out your wishes for after you die.
A living revocable trust becomes effective immediately. While you are alive you can be in full charge of your trust. And when you become incapacitated or die, the person you appoint as the successor trustee can easily step in and handle your affairs exactly as you have laid out in the document.”
When you pass away, having a living trust has the benefit – to those who are left behind – of avoiding probate (going to court) and immediately being able to enact your wishes that you put in your will.
1. Getting started on that will: Encouraging people to have a will and asking them to consider leaving a portion of their estate to your congregation or organization is what’s called – as repeated from above – “low hanging fruit.” Simply make the suggestion to have someone remember you in their will. Remember, there are institutions of higher education and large non-profits who have whole departments dedicated to legacy giving. Someone is already planting the idea and cultivating the gift, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t as well.
Recently, my church sent out a legacy letter. In it, we remembered some of the saints that gave, what was to them, a meaningful gift to the church after they passed away. We reminded people to consider leaving a similar meaningful gift and to let us know about it. You can access that letter here. As always, feel free to adapt it for your own purposes. You can also take a look at the legacy brochure we developed.
2. Go a step further: host a Zoom Will Writing Workshop. If you are located in the Northwest, the Northwest United Methodist Foundation offers such a workshop. In 90 minutes, people can have their basic questions answered. As Julia Frisbie, Associate Director of the NWUMF says,
“Folks should know that our workshops are free and we don't have any financial stake in their will writing process (we're not attorneys, so we're not trying to get them to pay us a bunch of money to do their wills). We offer the workshops to support churches because we know that bequests make up the majority of church endowment funding...and without wills being written, there are no bequests!”
The time couldn’t be better to talk about legacy giving.
All Saints Sunday is coming up on November 1. It’s a perfect opportunity to honor those saints who have left this realm and to remind your congregation about their legacy. No doubt, death is serious business, but it’s also a chance to celebrate a life well lived. And, leaving a legacy gift that keeps on giving is a great way to bless others long after you have passed.