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January Is Make Your Will Month
Dec 16, 2009
Recent surveys show that less than half of Americans have a valid Last Will and Testament. For followers of Jesus Christ, this should be a great concern. Throughout scripture, we are told to be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us.
Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”
Among our stewardship responsibilities are:
- Wisely using and increasing the assets God has given us. (See Matthew 25:14-30)
- Showing love for our families and providing for their needs, both financially and for Christian nurturing and instruction. (See I Timothy 5:8)
- Providing a plan and clear direction to follow up our stewardship responsibilities to our loved ones and the Lord’s work beyond our lifetime here on earth.
- Hebrews 11:4
What you say and provide for in your will can have eternal consequences. You can include words of personal witness; you can seek God’s guidance and follow God’s principles in distributing your estate and choosing those who will act in your place; and you can demonstrate your love for your family and for the Lord.
Another troubling fact is that only about eight percent of Americans include a charitable bequest in their will. As Christians, whether we have a little or a lot, writing a will or amending an existing one provides us with an opportunity to make a final statement of the importance placed on continuing God’s work.
God’s word tells us, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
2 Corinthians 9:6-11 (NIV)
How do you include a ministry in your will?
- You can designate a specific dollar amount or time when the ministry receives the bequest. This is called a specific bequest.
- You can designate that a percentage or fraction of your estate be given.
- You can name one or more ministries as contingent beneficiaries in case a beneficiary precedes you in death or is unable to accept the gift.
- You can designate your gift to a specific project or purpose, for an endowment fund or for general purposes. We are all beneficiaries of the vision and generosity of those who have made gifts from their estates to churches and other ministries. The amount need not be large to be significant.
How can I modify my existing will without making a new one?
Some changes to a will can be made through a codicil. This brief document modifies an existing will. The date, your full name, the county and state in which you reside, and the date on which you original will was signed are needed in the codicil. Very specific changes to the will with reference to the particular section of the will you desire to change are necessary. Be clear and precise about the changes. This document should also be witnessed in the same manner of the original will with names, addresses and date of the witness of the signing of the codicil.
Notarization is also needed. It is important that you check with your attorney or Probate Court in your county for other specific requirements.
If you have questions or need specific language to include Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries in you Last Will and Testament or other estate document, please don’t hesitate to contact Bob Dewhurst at 205-82-1112.
Editor's Note: Hours after completing this article tragedy struck a group of strong, healthy men and women at Fort Hood, Texas. An irony of this terrible massacre is that many of those who died were assuring that their Last Will and Testaments were up to date before deploying to defend freedom. I often say,” I don’t know what tomorrow holds but I do know who holds tomorrow.” Are you prepared?
By Bob Dewhurst
ABCH VP, Ministry Development
(Bob Dewhurst serves as ABCH Vice President, Ministry Development and is a retired Military Police Officer and Criminal Investigator formerly leading criminal investigation for the U.S. Army in Texas.)