There are three key stewardship questions that every family of wealth must answer in order to maximize their lifetime giving: (1) How much is enough for us? (2) How much is enough for our heirs? (3) What are we going to do with what’s left over? You cannot answer question (3) until you have first answered questions (1) and (2). Since very few affluent families have a good answer for questions (1) and (2), they routinely give substantially less of their accumulated surplus wealth away during their lifetime than they could or should, simply because they do not know how much of what they have is actually surplus wealth – consequently leaving the bulk of their giving to some future deferred gift to be deployed by someone else. In today’s post, we will help you answer these three questions.
The stewardship goal for those of us whom the Lord has blessed with material excess is to first determine just how much of what we have is actually excess and then how can we most promptly and effectively deploy our surplus for Kingdom purposes before Jesus returns. We need to take the time and make the effort to answer these three questions and then once we have them answered, start proactively deploying the excess wealth for Kingdom purposes now so that our giving will not just have a Kingdom impact someday, it will have a Kingdom impact today!
1. How much is enough for us?
Having done a number of plans for wealthy families, it is amazing that they seldom have a good answer for this question. It is because they don’t think about what they spend because they don’t usually have to. In order for us to do an analysis of their current plan verses their new objectives we need to know how much they spend. The reason is because we need to know how much they need to keep to produce their income. Once we have this number, we can set aside the assets necessary to produce this income and assets set aside for emergency purposes so that we can determine what is excess beyond their income needs. Typically, they are afraid to nail it down, so we include more than they need to satisfy that emotional fear.
2. How much is enough for the heirs?
This one is tricky. No one wants to ruin their kids, but there is little written on how much and how to give to heirs. As a Christian, we all agree that God owns all that we have. As owner, God is also in charge of how we spend and how we give what we have. Through prayer and discernment, we determine how to manage God’s assets. That is also true when giving to heirs. The key question to ask when looking to the children’s inheritance is how will it impact the Kingdom? There is nothing in the bible that even implies that we are to give equally to our children. So many conflicts and issues are created when we force an equal distribution to our children.
Decide for what purposes you want to give to each child and how much and when is the best time to give to them. We encourage families to try to give to the children while they are alive so that you can enjoy seeing the result of their gift.
3. What are we going to do with what is left over?
Now that you know what you need to live on and how much you want to give to your heirs, it is a simple to answer what is left over. In our experience, after substantially reducing the income taxes and capital gains taxes and all of the estate taxes, that most families have multiple times the amount to give to charities than they thought they had. Their greatest challenge is now who to give to and how. What a great challenge and wonderful blessing for the family.
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.