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leave a better legacy

by Norma Goldman

LIVING AS CHILDREN OF PRIVILEGE in America, it is hard not to accumulate “stuff.” While few of us start life with the goal of accumulating “stuff,” most of us have more than we need. Almost everyone in our society owns homes, cars, furnishings, jewelry, stocks, bonds, and collectibles—in short, stuff! Perhaps it’s time to take a new direction!

Adult children really aren’t much interested in mom and dad’s stuff; they prefer their own! They aren’t interested in the tools, photography, hobbies, or collections that have given us pleasure over the years. A new direction—planning the disposition of your assets—requires a prayerful approach because these gifts came from the hand of a generous God. God is the greatest giver of all time, perfectly displayed in the ultimate gift of His Son, Jesus.

Retirement planning includes deciding how we will bless our families and institutions we care deeply about after our deaths. Many successful people make public statements that they plan to leave little of their wealth to their children. Their reasons? Having too much too soon stifles a young person’s drive to pursue his or her own gifts and talents, resulting in low initiative and over-dependence on parents. Ask God to guide your estate planning.

Once you determine what gifts you will leave family members—children or parents who depend on you for support—consider how you will leave a financial legacy through your local church, mission agency, or denomination. The following are some ideas others have used to create a lasting legacy:

  • Name your church or denomination as the beneficiary of an insurance policy.

  • If your adult children have their own homes, consider leaving the proceeds from the sale of your home to your denomination. Your will can stipulate uses for the proceeds, but put few strings on the gift to allow the maximum use of the funds. (You DO have a will, don’t you? If not, start one today!)

  • If your heart lies in missions, you might stipulate funds to be used in spreading the gospel (International or home), without limiting the gift to a geographic location or particular type of mission activity. This will ensure the money can be spent where the need is greatest.

  • Consider a living trust, which allows your estate to pay heirs a set amount of money over time. When the amount has been paid, the balance of the estate passes to your church, denomination, college, or charity of choice.

  • Direct the executor of your estate to hold a sale at the time of your death, stipulating that proceeds be used to spread the gospel. Children’s homes, rescue missions, Christian colleges, or specific faith-based ministries are good choices. (Check out recipients to insure that funds will be used efficiently and wisely.)

As simple as these steps seem, more than 50% of Americans die without a will. That means someone else (usually the state) will make important decisions that are rightfully yours. Establish a future date (3-4 months is reasonable) by which you will have decisions made and prayerfully seek God’s direction. Ask a reputable attorney the cost of preparing your will. Check with business associates or trusted friends to assure the cost is in line with what others charge in your area. Discuss these decisions with your family, letting them know your desires and intentions. Such discussions offer wonderful opportunities to witness about your faith and God’s provision throughout your lifetime.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Former magazine editor Norma Goldman enjoys a free-lance career in her retirement. She lives in Nashville, TN.







©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists