One of the most important things we can do as believers is to plan for our death. Planning for death brings into sharp focus our beliefs about financial stewardship and the promises of God. The very idea of estate planning has to do with the gifts of God, the gifts we are given and the gifts we will give.
It may be surprising to learn that between 70 and 80 percent of all Americans fail to plan. For whatever reason, only a small minority create a valid estate plan before they die. Somehow, we find it hard to plan to do the things we ordinarily do in life and even harder to plan to die.
A legacy gift is the blessing we leave behind that provides continued support for the hopes and dreams we have for our loved ones and for our calling on earth. Unfortunately, too many wonderful Christian people never take the opportunity to make their wishes known. Planning for death is a matter of carefully making your wishes known.
Making Things Clear
Whether we are nearing the end of our lives, contemplating retirement, or struggling with a growing family, the time to plan is now. All of us need to make clear to future generations how, when, and to whom we will transfer the stewardship of what God has entrusted to us when we can no longer serve as stewards ourselves.
Our collective failure to plan seems especially surprising because the U.S. tax code provides significant incentives to those who prepare an estate plan. These incentives are designed to make it easy for very personal wishes to be known and followed—for instance, wishes that deal with child custody, property distribution, or leaving a legacy of Christian values. In addition, a careful estate plan will often minimize costs related to settling an estate.
Have you created an estate plan? Have you considered your heart’s desires in life and in death? Have you considered leaving a legacy gift that demonstrates and gives substance to your Christian values?
A well-prepared, godly estate plan should do three things:
- Express God’s plan for stewardship
- Effectively transfer the assets with which God has entrusted you to individuals and charitable beneficiaries of your choice
- Transfer your estate in a tax-efficient way with as little heartache, cost, and delay as possible
Those who plan to designate Life Challenge as a beneficiary in their will or trust can make a significant gift, often more than they could have made while living. They will also have the confidence of knowing that, for generations to come, their gift will help bring hope, healing and help to those who struggle with drugs and alcohol.
Any gift, whether cash, real estate, other property, or investments such as retirement accounts, stocks, bonds and life insurance, provides the giver a way to contribute to the things that mean the most to him or her. With proper planning, donors who plan can also maintain control of their assets while living and still have flexibility to make changes as their circumstances change.
Planned giving comes in many forms. The charitable giving landscape can seem complicated and confusing. A qualified financial advisor or lawyer will gladly help and it is always best to seek professional advice. At Life Challenge we are blessed to have Steve Swaggerty on our Board of Directors. Steve is an experienced, licensed financial advisor who has offered to help our donors achieve their estate planning goals.
Though the process and the paperwork may seem daunting, compared to the devastating effects and the legal intricacies of settling an estate without a valid plan, the efforts to create a godly plan should be seen as a joy.
Through the years Life Challenge has been financially blessed by thousands of people. The mere fact that you are reading this newsletter right now probably means that you have given to Life Challenge recently. We know that each one of you has given cheerfully, having been called by a gracious Father in heaven who has ordained a special purpose for Life Challenge. But with that special calling and purpose comes a special burden.
Life Challenge is unlike most Christian organizations, even those that are known as “para-church” ministries. We are different. We have no well-oiled, money-generating business model that provides monthly income, no Sunday morning services filled with givers who tithe, no foundation charter that mandates support from deep-pocketed financiers, no government tax money, no steady flow of cash from services rendered; in short, we have no visible means of support.
We have only those who believe in what we do and who come alongside of us to give of their time and their money now and, yes, even long after they pass into eternity. Please take this time to plan and please consider Life Challenge in your planning.
For more information about planned giving or designating Life Challenge as a beneficiary in your will or trust, contact John Richardson, Director of Development at 313.531.0111. Or, visit our website at lifechallengesemi.org and look for Planned Giving under Get Involved.