A few weeks ago I was visiting a lovely woman regarding the subject of giving. One of the things she told me was that she had planned to give her church a percentage of her estate. Naturally, I praised her for thinking of her church and its mission. When I asked what percentage she had planned to give, she couldn’t remember, and promised to go home and read her will again. You can imagine her surprise when she discovered that she had not included the church in her will at all. It had been a long time since she looked at it and she mistakenly thought her good intentions had been included.
Many of us have wills or trusts that we haven’t looked at in a long time. As time marches on sometimes our life changes, or the details of our will become fuzzy in our memories. That is why it is a good idea to read and update your will from time to time. Some of the reasons you might want to change a will are:
- You can’t remember whether you did or did not include someone important to you.
- You want to change the amount, or percentage, of a bequest. Depending on whether your estate and assets have grown—or decreased—you might want to change the amounts you give to the people and causes you value.
- You divorce or remarry. We all know stories of spouses left out of wills, or ex-spouses left in them. Never pretty. There might also be step-children to consider.
- Grandchildren are added to your life. If you are planning to leave things to grandchildren, the addition of another might cause you to adjust your gifts to them.
- Your values have changed. Perhaps you once supported a cause with passion, but time or circumstances have made you feel differently; or God may have recently laid something new on your heart that you would like to support. A change might be in order.
- You move to another state. It is good to review your will in light of each state’s specific laws and provisions.
- Your spouse dies or has a significant change in health concerns, such as the onset of Alzheimer’s or a stroke. For those persons who assumed their spouse would inherit everything, now new decisions must be made.
If you have an attorney, let them know your wishes, and they can make any changes or adjustments.
Stewardship is a life-long process. As we have been faithful in this life, we must be faithful as we move to the next life. Make sure that what you have earned and accumulated is always used with good sense, grace, and in support of the people and causes that the Lord has put into your care—and into your heart.
If you would like information to help your congregation understand wills and planned giving, your Foundation is here to help. Contact us here or by calling us toll free at 877-391-8811.
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Director of Development
United Methodist Foundation of Indiana