The Stewardship of Estate Planning
"Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful
(1 Corinthians 4:2 ESV).
The apostle Paul defined his responsibilities in ministry by using the word “steward” – a term originally referring to a person entrusted with and responsible for his master’s entire household, including buildings, fields, finances, food, other servants, and sometimes even the children of the owner. The most essential quality of a steward is obedient loyalty to his master – faithfulness.
As a Christian, you are the steward and God is the owner. Your estate planning will be the single largest act of stewardship you will ever perform. Whether you are nearing the end of your life, contemplating retirement, or younger with a growing family, estate planning boils down to 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. Estate planning is like having the privilege of writing the last chapter of your autobiography.
A Proper Estate Plan Should Accomplish the Following:
- Express God’s plan for stewardship.
- Transfer the assets with which God has entrusted you to the individuals and charitable beneficiaries of your choosing.
- Transfer your estate in a tax-efficient manner with as little heartache, cost, and delay as possible for your family members left behind.
Two Practical Tools to Help
Free Personal Estate Planner
We will be happy to mail you a free Personal Estate Planner with over 70 pages designed to help you collect and compile the necessary information to complete a Last Will and Testament and to provide vital information to the Executor of that Will. Click Here to Order
GivingDocs is an online platform that allows individuals and families to create estate planning documents that are valid in their state of domicile. Documents include a Last Will and Testament, General Power of Attorney, and Health Care Directive. The application works through a questionnaire to generate the content of the documents. GivingDocs is relatively simple and can be completed normally in 1½ to 2 hours.
GivingDocs is provided at no cost by the Louisiana Baptist Foundation, a ministry partner of the Children’s Home and an agency of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. You will be encouraged to leave at least a tithe of your estate to a Christian ministry you support. If problems or questions arise, please call Jeff Steed or Jerry Love at the Foundation at 318-4455-4495 or 1-877-523-4636 or go to www.LBFinfo.org.
Four Basic Estate Planning Documents Everyone Should Have in Place
(1) Current Will
Your will is a written document, signed by you and by two or more witnesses. In some states, your signature must be witnessed by a notary public. If the will is believed to be authentic by the probate court, it is used to determine the distribution of your property. If the will is not valid or you do not have a will, the court will follow state law for those without a will. Many of the court decisions might be completely contrary to your desires.
For example, without a valid will, a judge might choose guardians for your minor children, select trustees to manage your property, and even award property to your distant relatives. With a valid will, you can choose who will inherit your property and who will administer your estate as executor or personal representative. If you have minor children, you can choose who you want to raise your children.
A valid will is an essential part of transferring your property at the right time to the right people at the lowest cost. Without a valid will, costs, delays, and the probability of expensive conflict increase. You can provide a wonderful legacy for your family with an updated will and a sound estate plan.
(2) Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
The durable power of attorney for finances allows you, during your lifetime and while you are competent, the opportunity to name someone to make financial decisions for you if you can no longer do so for yourself. A durable power of attorney for finances protects your property and yourself. If you are no longer able to manage your property, the person that you select in this durable power has the right to act as your agent. Even if you are disabled or incapacitated, this person will have the legal right to manage your property. If you do not have a durable power of attorney for finances, it will be necessary for the court to appoint a conservator.
The court may select any person as conservator and there often will be expensive reports, audits, and costs in the management of your property. If you sign a durable power of attorney for finances, the person that you select may manage your property without all the expense of a court-appointed conservator.
Even spouses should have durable power of attorney for finances because some assets cannot be jointly owned such as IRA’s, 401(k)’s, and even insurance policies are generally owned by one individual. You cannot access your spouse’s retirement account or any cash value in a life insurance policy without a durable power of attorney for finances if they become incapacitated.
(3) Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare
There are two general types of healthcare directives—a durable power of attorney for healthcare and a living will. In some states, they are combined into one document called an advanced directive.
The durable power of attorney for healthcare allows you to select a person who can assist your doctors in making healthcare decisions while you may be incapacitated. You may have a serious medical condition and the doctor will need the advice of another person regarding the best possible care for you. Your designated holder of the durable power of attorney for healthcare can help the doctors ensure that you have high-quality care.
(4) Living Will
The living will gives your instructions regarding end of life issues and covers the time before your probable death. In the last days and weeks of life, there are several decisions regarding care, nutrition, hydration, and resuscitation that need to be made. The living will gives you the opportunity to offer recommendations to medical staff about the types of care to be provided to you at that time.
Other Estate Planning Options and Benefits
If you have a moderate or large estate, you may find it desirable to create a living trust. The living trust is completely within your control during your lifetime. You can add property to the trust or remove property from the trust at any time. During your lifetime, the trust income is taxable to you.
There are at least three major benefits of the living trust. If you are sick or in the hospital, your designated successor trustee can take over and manage your property for your benefit. Second, if you pass away, the property in the living trust will avoid probate and potentially save thousands of dollars in costs. Third, the living trust typically is a private document and is not made public during the probate process.
Custom Estate Plan for Business, Investments, or Special Needs Child
If you own a family business, substantial real estate holdings, or a large estate, then a custom plan that considers your special property goals and requirements should be created. Another custom plan option is important if you have a child with special needs. A child with special needs may be provided for through a “special needs trust.” A special needs trust will facilitate care of the child by providing resources and directions. In some cases, a child may qualify to receive federal or state benefits if that is helpful in providing care for the special needs child.
IRA, 401(k), or Other Retirement Plan
Your IRA, 401(k), or other retirement plan is transferred by a beneficiary designation. Normally, the beneficiaries should be named on the IRA, and it should be given directly to family or charity, and not to your estate. The IRA or 401(k) custodian should provide a form for you to select a primary and contingent beneficiary. Because your retirement plan may represent a major portion of your property (30% to 70%), your beneficiary designation should be reviewed every two to four years.
Life insurance is usually permanent (whole life or universal life) or term. The insurance policy is a contract, and there is a beneficiary designation form. You will select the primary and contingent beneficiary to receive the death benefit if you pass away with a valid insurance policy.
Charitable Remainder Trusts
A charitable remainder trust is an excellent way to benefit yourself, your spouse, or other family members. It combines substantial tax savings with the ability to produce a very good income for you or your family members. Charitable remainder trusts are especially helpful for individuals who retire and would like to sell land or stock tax free and receive a generous income.
Charitable Gift Annuity
Many people, especially those age 70 and above, are very interested in fixed payments from a charitable gift annuity. If you fund a gift annuity, you receive a substantial income tax charitable deduction and fixed payments for life. A gift annuity may pay for one life or for two lives. For a husband and wife, the payments will last until both have passed away.
Donor Advised Funds
Many families find that a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) is a simple and efficient way to help charities that they love. By establishing such a fund, you can time the gifts you make (for investment or tax reasons), and you can select the charities you wish to benefit from your gifts. You receive the income or estate tax deduction, and the opportunity is there to make distribution decisions later. Many families may use a DAF as an estate beneficiary so that they can allow their children or friends to continue supervising the gifts from their fund for years to come. Parents appreciate the way that their DAF encourages children to be involved in philanthropy.
Another option that you may prefer is to leave property or money in an endowment form so that the charity does not spend the principal. Instead, the charity pays the endowment income (as the donors often have done throughout their lives). Endowments may be left to community or religious foundations or often directly to the charity with instructions for their use. It is often helpful to suggest a general purpose for the endowment fund because it will last perpetually, and the original purpose for the gift may one day not exist.
Louisiana Baptist Foundation Helps with Estate Planning
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. You may contact Jeff Steed or Jerry Love at the Foundation at 318-445-4495 or 1-877-523-4636 or go to www.LBFinfo.org for more info.
Leaving a Lasting Legacy
"The greatest legacy one can pass on to one's children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one's life, but rather a legacy of character and faith." –Billy Graham
The impact of including Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home & Family Ministries in your estate plans is tremendous. You will extend the reach of this life-changing ministry to future generations of children and families in need.
Everyone who includes the Children’s Home in their estate plans can become a member of our Children’s Legacy Foundation. This is our way of honoring those who invest in the lives of the children and families we serve with a future gift.
Please contact Marc Eichelberger, Vice President of Development & Public Relations, at 318-343-2244 or marc@LBCH.org if you include the Children’s Home in your estate plans so we can formally recognize you.
Official Bequest Information
Following is the official information you will want to include on documents prepared by your attorney or financial advisor to designate bequests to the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home:
Corporate Name: Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home and Family Ministries
Address: (Mailing) P. O. Box 4196, Monroe, LA 71211
(Physical) 7200 DeSiard Street, Monroe, LA 71203
Federal Employer ID Number: 72-6000696
Bequeath Language: "I bequeath the sum of $__________ to Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home and Family Ministries, a non-profit corporation located in Monroe, Ouachita Parish, Louisiana."
Contact Name: Marc Eichelberger, Vice President of Development & Public Relations, (318) 343-2244 or mail to: marc@LBCH.org.