The Importance of a Bequest Through a Will or Trust
Studies have shown that as many as 50% of people in the United States have not written a will or trust. Even though you may not have prepared one yet, you do have a “will.” It was written by the state years ago. The state’s planned distribution of your assets after death may or may not reflect your values and wishes. This is why it is so important to create your will.
Your will or trust can become an enduring testament to those people and causes that you have valued during your lifetime. It will be important to seek legal and financial advice when preparing your will. Prior to engaging an attorney or accountant you should make some preparations. List those people you are responsible for, such as children or other dependents, and list those people and organizations you would like to provide for in your will. Then make a list of all of your material assets and deduct your debts. After this is done, you can match the names with your assets to get an idea of how your estate will be divided. Take care of your family first. This is also a good time to consider your parish and other individuals and organizations. Think also about who would act as your estate administrator and ask if he or she is willing to serve.
You are now ready to prepare your will. Bequests in the will can take several forms—
- a specific monetary bequest
- a percentage of the estate
- a trust created in the will
- a contingent beneficiary if there are no surviving beneficiaries
We hope that you will consider your parish or the diocese in your will or trust as a thanksgiving for what God and the Church have meant in your life. A gift to an endowment fund becomes a permanent part of the endowment and will support the parish in the years to come.
A bequest to the parish can be either undesignated or designated. An undesignated gift can be allocated at the discretion of the vestry or Bishop’s committee and used for any current or future need of the parish at the time it is received. The bequest may also be designated in your will or trust for a specific purpose such as Christian formation, outreach, or maintenance of buildings and grounds. It is important to discuss any designated gift with Rector or Priest-in-Charge or one of the Wardens to ensure that it will meet current or future needs of the parish and its ministry.
When you put your church in your will or trust, you raise it to the level of “family.”
If you have any questions about a will, trust, or other forms of planned giving please contact our Executive Director, Jill Heller, at (262) 902-5901, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Episcopal Church Foundation has many resources related to planned giving. Their website is at http://www.episcopalfoundation.org/programs/planned-giving.