Estate Planning is instructions, upon your death, stating whom you want to receive something of yours, what you want them to receive, and when they are to receive it.
It also includes a plan to pay the least amount of taxes, legal fees, and court costs. That is what estate planning is—making a plan in advance and naming whom you want to receive the things you own after you die. Of course, this can also involve disability directions and special needs instructions for family members and instructions to a guardian for minor children. But if that is all you do as a Christian, you are leaving out all that God calls you to.
OUR LIVES ARE LIKE AN ARTIST’S CANVAS. On that canvas, we paint every day we live our lives. We are adding something every day to the picture. And eventually, we will leave behind a picture, which others will reflect upon and review. The highlights of our lives and the things that we have made that we are and contributions we have made will remain for others to consider.
Legacy Planning is that canvas. It not only involves all the money and assets we leave behind but also involves our legacy of love and respect and our faith. Unfortunately for so many, it involves leaving a picture with all the dark colors of life. If we paint into each day our alcoholism and narcissism and pride and materialism, our picture or legacy will be one that regrettably our children may model.
I have a friend at the church plant that I attend whose mother’s side of the family was pill poppers and heroine addicts and his father’s side of the family were all alcoholics. It was a disturbing picture. He managed to model them and was not only in prison five times but has been shot and stabbed. It took the loving grace of Jesus to change the picture he was painting for his children. He has broken that inherited model and has now created a new canvas of love and devotion to God for his three children and wife. He is on fire for God and is anxious to tell everyone he knows of his hope in Jesus.
Legacy Planning is like a truth serum. It will force you to face the truth of what you are leaving behind. You can always hide the truth behind an Estate Plan because it never delves into the deep issues of life. Trust me, your children know the truth.
If you chose to visit an attorney’s office without first visiting a Legacy Planner, you will most likely create a superficial document of boiler-plate answers to redistribution of your assets without addressing what is important. If we believe that God owns it all, which is clearly stated in the Bible, we need to take this issue of death and what happens to our canvas of life and carefully craft a picture of beautiful, harmonious colors. If we trust in Jesus and His promises, we will not allow our children to be left with a handful of money with no direction or purpose to their lives. Is that what you want?
A word of caution: Even if you leave the perfect legacy of love and mercy and joy; even if you have left the seed of your faith with your children; even if you have become a humble servant and taught your children to be servant leaders; only they, through the grace of God can accept Jesus in their lives and the Spirit within them.
You can paint a beautiful picture of servant leadership and humble submission to Jesus, but your children will have to paint their own picture.
We may paint many pictures as we mature and change and redirect our lives. Hopefully, the one you die painting will be the one the children keep.
My hope is that the Legacy that you leave of God’s love and graciousness, mercy and compassion will be the type of painting worthy of leaving behind for your children and others that will never be destroyed.
Treat your legacy as if God has set eternity in your heart and wants you to model that for your children to follow.
Download The Master’s Plan!
This is a book about transforming your family legacy – both today and in generations to come. It is for Christian families who want to eliminate estate and capital gains taxes, maintain their current lifestyle, pass on an appropriate inheritance to their heirs, maximize giving to worthy ministries, create healthier family relationships and leave a lasting legacy to impact God’s kingdom.