64% of Americans don’t have a will, according to a survey conducted by Rocket Lawyer, a legal service provider. And more than 60% of respondents to a survey conducted by FindLaw.com, legal information resource, said they don’t have a living will or advance directive that spells out their health care wishes if they can’t make them on their own. In my own experience, I have yet to meet someone that has an estate plan that is complete or well drafted!
In this post I will cover the 4 stages of a well-drafted Estate/Legacy Plan and why you need to shift your thinking about the planning from a focus on your death – to the impact you can make on your heirs and Kingdom causes while you are still living and beyond.
Most people, whether wealthy or of modest means, avoid planning because they would rather not think about – death.
Estate Planning should be thought of as Legacy Planning because it has more to do with the life-giving impact on those you leave behind than your death. Legacy Planning is both personal and financial. It is about how you want to impact those you leave behind and how you want the money to impact your loved ones and ministries that you care deeply about. Estate Planning could be the most impactful, enjoyable task that you have taken on in years.
1. Everyone needs a Legacy Plan because your life and the lives of your children and grandchildren are important and, most importantly, because you are a Steward of all that God has gifted you. We are told in the Bible that God created all and that Jesus redeemed us. As a result, God owns us twice. Everything that we have in life: children, spouse, money, and possessions are merely gifts from God. Even our talents and opportunities are gifts from God.
2. The purpose of a Legacy Plan is to manage what God has gifted you. Managing the eventual outcome of your assets and what impact you want to have on ministries and your family is ordained by God. Careful considerations to how, and how much for each, is done through prayer and communication. If married, this is a time for both of you to pray, talk and plan. Hiring the right planner is a way of being shrewd with what God has gifted you and helps you use all of the necessary strategies available to reduce taxes and carefully consider complex family issues. The planner needs to share your Christian world view and should have years of experience planning family estates.
3. This is a collaborative process. The planner needs to be comfortable working with attorneys, accountants, insurance professionals, money managers and bankers. These professional advisors are usually more understanding of the unique perspective of Christian estate planning if they share the same world-view, but make sure they are also experienced and qualified to handle an estate of your size and complication. Finally, hire the planner before plugging in other advisors – whether they will be new or advisors you have worked with for years. The vision statement created by the planner, which includes the goals and objectives, needs to be discussed and written out before any talk of finances or strategies are discussed or you will not end up with a completed plan that fits your particular objectives.
4. Five Stages of a well drafted Estate Plan (Legacy Plan)
• Vision: Deciding God’s purpose for your family
• Clarify: Where you are now?
• Focus: Meeting your objectives
• Implementation: Executing the plan
• Impact: Contributing lasting impact for the Kingdom/ Building Family purpose and Legacy
All adults need proper documents to prepare for the unexpected, and to make things easier for the people that are left behind. In some states, the lack of proper planning can be devastating. I helped one client whose mother died in New York. Her attorney created a will for the client but not a trust. In New York, if you don’t have a trust, the executor and attorney are by statute owed a percentage of the estate. In this case, the client only had a home worth $500,000. When the house is sold, the executors receive $50,000 to settle the estate! If the home was in a trust, there would not be that cost. The attorney was obviously thinking of his future fee, rather than thinking of the best plan. Don’t make this mistake… take the time to plan ahead and multiply your impact both now and after your death.
Download this free ebook that will help you understand what’s possible once you discover how to become a better steward by eliminating taxes by focusing on Kingdom causes that will enable you to build an enduring family legacy.
By Joe Sturniolo
Christian Family Legacy and Wealth Planning
Joe believes that stronger families are the vehicle God uses to bring
about significant impact for His Kingdom.