Advance Care Directive: More Comprehensive Than A Living Will

Senior Couple Sitting at the Lake

What’s More Important Than a Living Will?

By Rev. Bill Gruenewald

Even if you are in perfect health, it is important to be prepared for the eventual day you are called home. Having a solid estate plan is the foundation of that preparation, and something everyone should have to ensure they do not unnecessarily burden those they leave behind.

A Living Will outlines what preferences you have for your end-of-life care. Not to be confused with a Last Will & Testament, which determines distribution of your assets, a Living Will specifies things like Do Not Resuscitate orders, what pain medications may be used, and organ donor status. 

Historically, a Living Will was used in conjunction with an Advanced Care Plan and a Medical Power of Attorney Form to form the basis of medical decision-making should a person be unable to coherently make those decisions on their own. In 2017, the Tennessee Department of Health combined these three documents into a single, comprehensive document called the Advance Directive for Health Care.

Why You Need An Advance Care Directive

While the documents used before 2017 are still valid, having an up-to-date Advance Care Directive lets you answer all of the important questions about end-of-life care so your family doesn’t have to. These questions include:

Who gets to make decisions for you?

Assigning someone Medical Power of Attorney means that you control who makes decisions if you are unable to do so. You do not want to put your spouse or your children in the uncomfortable position of having to decide who gets the final word in your treatment. Dealing with the declining health of a loved one is difficult enough.

Comfort care vs. clinical care

When dealing with a potentially terminal illness, decisions must be made whether to treat it aggressively by any means necessary or to prioritize comfort. Also known as palliative care, comfort care preferences include things like pain medication options, avoiding invasive procedures, or being allowed to die at home instead of the hospital.

Organ and tissue donation

Many states allow you to choose your organ donation status at the DMV when you get a new driver’s license. However, an Advance Care Directive allows you to update this information as well as specify which organs and tissues you are willing to donate.

DNR & emergency treatments

It’s important to decide which emergency treatments you are willing to undergo, as some can be extremely invasive. Some people want to use every means necessary for treatment, while others have a line they prefer not to cross. Setting these boundaries in an Advance Care Directive means others don’t have to make that decision for you. This includes distinctions for: 

  • Do Not Resuscitate orders
  • Do Not Intubate orders
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Dialysis
  • Tube feeding

Don’t let these important questions go unanswered

These are unpleasant topics to think about, but they are necessary. Families shouldn’t have to deal with an avalanche of difficult questions and decisions when a loved one is in a terminal condition. Giving your family clarity on your final wishes is one of the best gifts you can give.

If you are unprepared for the end of your life, we are here to help. Contact us today and we’ll walk you through the first steps in preparing the necessary documents. Please, don’t wait. The peace of mind you and your family will have should the unexpected happen is invaluable.

You can reach us via phone at (615) 371-2029 or fill out this form.

Everyone has an estate, but not everyone has a plan. Do you have a plan? Take our 10 minute estate plan audit to get started.

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Why Your Church Should Have a Legacy Ministry

top of church with cross and negative space with sky

Why Your Church Should Have a Legacy Ministry

By Rev. Bill Gruenewald

A legacy ministry is a powerful way to propel your church’s mission for years to come. It provides an additional stream of steady income for your church, allowing the congregation to continue its Kingdom work well into the future. Unfortunately, many churches miss out on this powerful opportunity to fuel their mission because they don’t know about it, don’t understand it, or think it’s too complicated.

The truth is, any church can set up a legacy ministry with much less work than you might think — and when you do, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

What is a legacy ministry?

A legacy ministry is a planned giving program that allows church members to designate a part of their estate to be given to the church after they die. It’s significant because even though church members often give cash assets regularly throughout their life, only five percent of a person’s assets are typically liquid, like cash. The remaining 95 percent is represented in nonliquid assets like real estate, stocks or mutual funds, and retirement accounts. Most of the time, the largest one-time charitable gift a person will make is through their will

By including the church in their estate plan, church members can make a one-time gift to the legacy ministry and use the gifts with which God has blessed them to carry out Kingdom purposes, well beyond their lifetime.

Unfortunately, for many congregations, legacy giving is often left out of the stewardship conversation — and in our experience most churches do not have legacy ministries established. With so much emphasis on the church’s operating budget and the weekly giving, congregations are unaware their assets can be used to impact the Kingdom after they have left this earth. 

By prioritizing legacy giving, church leadership will not only foster a culture of intentional stewardship in their congregation, they’ll set up their church for longevity as a ministry.

Why should Christians care about estate planning?

Estate plans are critically important to ensure your assets are managed the way you want without any ambiguity. But 70 percent of Americans die without one in place. Often it’s because they feel like it’s too complicated, or they simply don’t want to think about the end of their life. Estate plans can actually be quite simple to set up, and while everyone should have one, Christians in particular should be intentional about it.

As believers, we know that nothing we have is truly our own. God has blessed us with assets to steward well and use to show His love to others and bring Him glory. Without an estate plan, Christians miss out on an enormous opportunity for this kind of Kingdom impact — most likely the largest opportunity they’ll ever have to do so.

As followers of Christ, we also know that we do not have to fear death, because He has overcome it. If we are believers, we don’t have to feel uncomfortable talking about the end of this life, because it simply means we’re entering a better one, passing the torch to the next generation of believers. 

Through an estate plan, you get to explicitly state how you want your assets to be distributed, which means you can designate legacy gifts to causes and organizations you believe in. Without one, you leave that distribution up to the state laws, which will certainly not consider your church. If we want to be faithful stewards of what God has given us, we have to also plan for what will happen to those assets when we leave this earth.

An estate plan is an opportunity to not only bless the church when you pass, but well into the future — if they have a legacy ministry in place.

How does legacy giving work?

Once a member decides to include a legacy gift to your church in his or her estate plan, you can accept them via your legacy ministry. You can set up the ministry to reflect your church’s unique values and passions — an extension of your mission. The Legacy Fund will also generate interest income that can be used for ministries not in the budget, or for new initiatives the church feels called to do but isn’t able to fund.

A legacy ministry is also a steady support through any future tough times your congregation may face. Over the last year, many churches have struggled with weekly giving because we have not been able to gather in person due to the pandemic. Though regular giving will typically be the primary way we fund day-to-day ministry needs, a legacy ministry offers extra support to help carry through times like these.

How do I set up a legacy ministry?

If your church is interested in establishing a legacy ministry, the Tennessee Baptist Foundation is here to help. We are passionate about helping Tennessee Baptists steward well the material wealth God has given them and helping church members expand their commitment to stewardship beyond regular tithes and offerings. Legacy ministries are a great way to invite your congregation to be a part of this kind of long-term Kingdom impact.

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity for your church to invest in the next generation of believers and change the world with Kingdom work. 

Call us at 615-371-2029 to talk about setting up a legacy ministry for your church today!


Ready to get started?

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.

Everyone has an estate, but not everyone has a plan. Do you have a plan? Take our 10 minute estate plan audit to get started.

Learn More

What is a Last Will and Testament?

close up image of last will and testament

The Tragedy of Dying Without a Will

With the new year comes a fresh start. (And has there ever been a year in which we’ve longed for a fresh start more strongly than this one?) As you consider the year before you — a blank slate, ready for you to make your mark upon — it’s the perfect time to make a commitment to crossing a few things off your perpetual to-do list, like creating a last will and testament

Did you know that two-thirds of people will die without a will in place? It’s a staggering and sobering statistic, especially when you consider how simple it can be to create one. Most people put it off because they don’t want to think about death or their family members having to live without them, but it’s crucial that we take courage and do it anyway. 

Even celebrities can miss this important step

You may remember that when Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman passed away earlier this year from colon cancer at 43, he did not have a last will and testament in place. As tragic as the actor’s untimely death was, it became even more tragic because of the heavy burden of managing his estate afterward. His wife had to ask the courts to name her administrator of the estate, but that still only gave her limited authority. 

While Boseman’s estate may have been worth much more than the average person’s, estate planning is not just for the wealthy. Everyone has an estate; not everyone has a plan.

What happens if you die without a will?

If you do not have a last will and testament in place when you pass away, the state gets to decide what happens to your assets according to the default designations laid out in the law. You won’t get a say in where your estate goes, which also means you won’t get to determine whether your estate is used to support a ministry you’re passionate about or another Kingdom-minded cause. There are also additional legal fees associated with dying without a will in place.

Even in the case of Boseman’s estate, the lack of a will made everything more complicated. As a baptized Christian who remained strong in his faith, he may have wanted to make a donation to his church or a ministry, but the lack of a will makes that impossible to confirm. Stating specifically what you would like to happen to your assets after you pass leaves no room for guesswork or disagreements between family members about what your intentions are, and it means you can be intentional about stewarding well the earthly gifts God has given you.

Without a will, an unnecessary burden is placed on your already grieving family members, and you lose the ability to put those assets toward Kingdom-focused work — work that will continue to impact the next generation for Christ long after your lifetime.

God calls us to care for and invest those blessings for His glory in 1 Corinthians 4:2: “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (KJV) Having a will in place is just one of the practical ways we can live this out as followers of Christ.

The good news is, creating a last will and testament is actually not as complicated as you might think. Contact us today to get started. We’d love to help you steward your resources well for the glory of God.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Bill Gruenwald


Ready to get started?

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.

Everyone has an estate, but not everyone has a plan. Do you have a plan? Take our 10 minute estate plan audit to get started.

Learn More

3 Reasons to Make Estate Planning Your Easiest New Year’s Resolution

Happy New Year 2019

The key to a successful new year’s resolution is to be realistic. It’s great to have goals, but going from never exercising to hour-long workouts seven days a week is probably not a sustainable resolution. One resolution you can easily accomplish this year is estate planning. Many people feel like they don’t own enough to warrant an estate plan. But the truth is, if you own anything, you have an estate, and if you don’t make a plan, the state gets to decide what happens to it. It might sound complicated, but creating an estate plan is a simpler than you think. And it’s something you can feel good about having gotten done, even if your other resolutions have gone by the wayside.

There are several reasons making an estate plan should be on your list of new year’s resolutions this year, because there are enormous benefits for you, your family and even your community when you put one in place:

  1. It takes stress off your family.
    Everyone has an estate, but not everyone has a plan. While it may be a bit uncomfortable to talk about at first, if you pass away without a plan in place, it can wreak havoc on your family. Not only will establishing an estate plan take one more thing off your plate this year, it will prevent future stress for your family members, especially as they will be already going through a tough time. Creating your plan will relieve worry and stress for you today as well as for your family tomorrow. It’s the new year’s resolution that keeps on giving.
  2. Your estate plan can bless the future generation of believers.
    In the same way creating an estate plan can have a ripple effect of blessing your family well into the future, it can also bless people you’ve never even met. While you’re setting up yourself and your family for peace of mind and security, you can also invest in the next generation of believers. By dedicating a portion of your estate to organizations or ministries you are passionate about, you in turn impact even more people for the Kingdom. Your new year’s resolution today will continue to change lives for years to come. While certainly other resolutions are beneficial, it’s hard to say something that powerful about cutting back on sugar or cleaning out the garage.
  3. Your estate plan can pour back into organizations and ministries that have poured into your life.
    When you do designate a portion of your estate to a ministry or organization you love, you’re not only impacting future generations, you’re saying “thank you” for the impact they have made on your own life. Whether it’s your church or other Baptist cause, the influence these leaders and the missions they pursued had on your life changed it for the better — perhaps even shifted its course. Estate plans are the perfect opportunity to give back to the organizations and ministries that have poured into your life so powerfully, whether your paths crossed decades ago or you’re still engaged today.

This year, make a new year’s resolution that is not only achievable, but has lasting affects on your family, community and the church at large. Creating an estate plan is easier than you think, and the Tennessee Baptist Foundation is here to help. Since 1938, we have been helping Baptists all over the state approach their estate plan from a biblical perspective, walking with them every step of the way to create a plan that works for their family and impacts the Kingdom of God.

Ready to get started?

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.

Everyone has an estate, but not everyone has a plan. Do you have a plan? Take our 10 minute estate plan audit to get started.

Learn More