The Spiritual Practice of Estate Planning
by Christopher L. Kelly, Esq.
It’s hard to believe that we are now in the 20s! With a new year (and now a new decade), it’s a natural time to consider different resolutions in various areas of our lives. In the spiritual realm, we may be striving to read Scripture more frequently and diligently, pray more often or serve the Kingdom through our church. But have you thought about estate planning as a spiritual process to approach this year?
While the textbook definition sums up estate planning as the process of determining who becomes the owners of assets after we die, for believers, estate planning can mean much more. Here are a couple of spiritual benefits that occur when believers have a well-thought-out estate plan.
- A good estate plan can provide peace to a family. When someone dies without an estate plan (or when theirs is outdated), many times families are left in turmoil. Coupled with the natural instability that occurs with the death of a person, the uncertainty as to how assets will pass often gives rise to internal conflicts within the family — conflicts the deceased person may have never imagined would be an issue. While even the most well-designed plan cannot guarantee smooth sailing between family members, many common issues can be minimized or alleviated due to the certainty provided when the deceased person’s intentions are clearly expressed. When there is no estate plan as a guide, the door is open for a beneficiary (or would-be beneficiary) to influence the final results, often in a way that would benefit him or her the most. In Matthew 5:9, Christ commends those who are peacemakers. As a follower of Christ, we should strive to be instruments of peace in our world, especially within our family. A well-thought-out estate plan can be a key component of bringing that peace after we are gone.
- The estate planning process can reflect the values that are important to you. In Luke 12:34, Christ tells us we can evaluate our actual view of wealth by examining where we have deployed our assets. He says our heart — what matters most to us — is revealed in the ways we spend our money and financial resources. While we normally think of this verse as instructing us as to how we spend money during our lifetime, it also applies to how we dispose of our assets after we are gone. If Kingdom work has been important to you during your lifetime, your estate plan can also reflect its value to you by making provisions for Christian ministries. It is important to note that supporting Kingdom work (such as your church or other Baptist cause) does not happen by default under the law. To make a provision for Christian ministries, you must have your intention clearly stated in the appropriate documents.
Addressing your estate plan is a significant gift you can leave for your family as well as ministries you support. If you do not have a plan in place or if you have not updated it in a while, make estate planning a priority this year. One of the reasons TBF exists is to help all Tennessee Baptists develop estate plans that reflect their values. We have various resources available on our website to assist you in getting started, and we are always available to discuss and consult with you on any questions you might have.
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You can reach us via phone at (615) 371-2029 or fill out this form.
Please note that the advice offered in this article is not intended to be construed as tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice for the reader. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.