Will and Estate Planning

More than 50 percent of Americans do not have a current will. Why? Perhaps it has to do with the complexity of the process, the cost of documents or the confusion of goals and objectives.

Appropriate estate planning is beneficial to almost everyone. Whether you are nearing the end of your life, contemplating retirement, or have a growing family, estate planning helps you in determining how, when, and to whom you will transfer the stewardship of what God has entrusted to you when you can no longer serve as a steward, yourself.

However, every year, the vast majority of Americans who die do so without having prepared a valid estate plan. For the past three decades, the numbers have been between 70 and 80 percent. This statistic is astounding, since the U.S. tax code provides significant incentives to prepare an estate plan. These incentives are designed to make it easy for very personal wishes to be known and followed – for instance, wishes that deal with child custody, property distribution or leaving a legacy of Christian values. In addition, a well-designed estate plan can minimize costs related to settling the estate.

What is it about the preparation and declaration of one’s personal wishes – the essence of an estate plan – that Americans avoid in such resounding numbers?

We have learned from our clients that several typical reasons continually arise:

Distaste for Legal Documents
Many Americans seem to have a built-in dislike of legal documents. Such documents tend to be long and difficult to understand. However, compared to the legal intricacies of settling an estate without a plan, a well-defined estate plan is easy to prepare and understand. Most attorneys will gladly provide a summary of the contents of an estate plan to ensure the documents meet your objectives.

Lack of Understanding of God’s Directives for Stewardship
Throughout Scripture, you will find references that speak clearly about what we are to do with the resources God provides us. It is very important to understand God’s Word on stewardship.

“Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase.” -Proverbs 3:9

“But do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”-Hebrews 13:16

Life Gets in the Way
For some, the day-to-day routine is “too busy” to develop an estate plan. For others, it is the idea that no one plans to die, or, certainly, no one enjoys planning to die. Another common reason is “no one can know the future,” the notion that so much may change between today and the time of one’s death.

While all of the reasons for procrastinating are understandable, the absence of an estate plan can have a devastating impact on an estate and one’s remaining family members.

A proper estate plan should accomplish the following:

  • Transfer your assets to individuals and charitable beneficiaries
  • Transfer your estate in a tax-efficient manner with as little heartache, cost and delay as possible

For more information about estate planning – including how to include City Union Mission in your will – contact the Mission at (816) 329-1475 or by clicking here and selecting the “Will and Estate Planning” inquiry type.