Post: 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

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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.