The Stewardship of Estate Planning:
Writing the Last Chapter of Your Autobiography
Estate planning may be the single largest act of stewardship that most of us as Christians will ever perform. Appropriate estate planning is a win-win for almost everyone. Whether we are nearing the end of our lives, contemplating retirement, or younger with a growing family, estate planning boils down to determining how, when, and to whom we will transfer the stewardship of what God has entrusted to us when we can no longer serve as stewards ourselves. Estate planning is like having the privilege of writing the last chapter of your autobiography!
Every year, the vast majority of Americans who die, do so without having prepared a valid estate plan. For the past thirty years, 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, such as dealing with child custody, property distribution, or leaving a legacy of Christian values. A careful estate plan will often minimize costs related to settling the estate.
Why do Americans avoid the preparation and declaration of their final wishes (the essence of an estate plan), in such astounding numbers? Many people seem to have a built-in dislike for 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.
The single biggest reason people fail to prepare an estate plan probably falls into the category of “life just gets in the way.” For most people, the day-to-day routine is just too busy to find time to develop an effective estate plan. For others, it’s the idea that no one plans to die, or certainly no one enjoys planning to die. Still others reason that no one can know the future and, after all, so much may change between today and the time of one’s death.
As Christians, we need to realize that God’s Word speaks clearly about what we are to do with the resources God provides us. It is very important to understand God’s Word on stewardship. “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2 ESV). The Greek term “steward” here includes a form of the word “house.” It describes a household manager in the ancient Greek world who handled the finances for the owner. These managers or “stewards” were accountable to the owner for how they used their finances or material possessions. As Christians, we are the stewards – God is the owner.
A proper estate plan should accomplish the following:
Express God’s plan for stewardship
Transfer the assets with which God has entrusted us to the individuals and charitable beneficiaries of our choosing
Transfer our estate in a tax-efficient manner with as little heartache, cost, and delay as possible for our family members left behind
Louisiana Baptist Foundation is available to help you with estate planning. If you desire to include the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home in your estate plans, the Louisiana Baptist Foundation offers estate planning assistance. As a ministry partner of the Children’s Home and an agency of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Foundation does not charge a fee for this service (legal and/or CPA fees may be incurred in some circumstances). You may contact the Foundation at 318.445.4495 or Toll-Free 877.523.4636 or www.LBFinfo.org.
The Louisiana Baptist Foundation can provide you with the wise Christian counsel needed to help you write that last chapter of your autobiography. It will probably be the single largest act of Christian stewardship that you will ever perform.