Planning Tools for Christian Stewards

Ralph’s family was, on the surface at least, cordial to one another – some would even say loving, caring and kind.  Until… Until Ralph died and during his estate settlement, the old adage of “everything changes when there’s money on the table,” proved true.  Ralph’s children disagreed on how his estate should be distributed – disagreements turned into disappointment and bitterness.  For years after his passing, Ralph’s family remained estranged from one another. Is family discord absolutely unavoidable when settling a deceased family member’s estate?  No, but as Christian stewards, our first task is to determine God’s plan of stewardship for our estate.  God’s Word contains principles that give us guidance and we can recognize and address potential areas of family conflict by following them. 

Principle #1: God is the owner of all — not just one-tenth or the small portion we return back to Him in the weekly offering. Scripture is clear that God created this earth and all that it contains (Psalm 24:1-2) and as the creator and sustainer He is also the owner (Psalm 50:10-12). In the New Testament we read that we have been “bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and that the price was the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:17-19).

Principle #2: Since we cannot be owners, our role is that of manager, caretaker, trustee, and steward. God willingly places His assets into our care expecting that we will seek His best interest (Matthew 5:16) through the prudent use of our time (Ephesians 5:15-17), our abilities (Romans 12:1-8), and our financial resources (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

Principle #3: Our blessings are intended to be shared both during this lifetime and at the time of our death (2 Corinthians 8–9; Galatians 6:3 & 9–10; Ephesians 4:28). Planned giving and estate design help us maximize the use of God’s resources to benefit ourselves and others during our lifetime as well as our personal beneficiaries and beloved ministries at the time of death. They can also help us pay fewer dollars in taxes, instead directing those dollars to our church and favorite ministries.

Using these principles as a guide, there are 4 Steps to Estate Planning Stewardship Success

  1. Setting Priorities – Following biblical principles
  2. Learning Planning Strategies & Tools – Legal Documents (wills, trusts, powers of attorney), Charitable Tax-planning, Planned Giving Resources
  3. Gathering Necessary Data – The people and property of your plan
  4. Working with Professionals – The team that will help prepare and implement a quality plan
The following are essential planning tools that you should consider:
  • Wills and Revocable Living Trusts – are often considered the foundational documents for estate planning and distribution.

A will is a document that expresses the final distribution desires of an individual. Wills are subject to state law and nearly always require the involvement of the probate court.  A will distributes only property that was titled solely in the name of the deceased.

A revocable living trust can be used by an individual or a couple.  The trust provides management of assets during lifetime and final distributions at death.  It will avoid the probate process on assets that are titled to the trust during lifetime.

  • Powers of Attorney – give another individual the legal ability to make decisions on your behalf. They are important when an individual is disabled and cannot manage their business and/or medical affairs.
  • Titling – must be coordinated with your other legal documents to assure that your planning desires are accomplished. Titling can be a very useful way to transfer assets, or it can be the “fly in the ointment” that creates havoc in your plans.
  • Beneficiary Designations – can often be used to transfer assets to desired beneficiaries with minimal cost and delay. Some assets, like life insurance and qualified retirement accounts, have built-in beneficiary arrangements.  Many other financial instruments and tangible assets can also be transferred, without probate, by beneficiary arrangement.

Making Gifts From Your Estate

You can continue to give beyond your lifetime with a bequest from your estate. You can include language in your Will or Trust to make gifts to Biblica or other ministries.  Your bequest can be:

  1. A percentage of your estate
  2. A gift of a specific amount
  3. A gift of a specific asset
  4. A gift of the balance of your estate (after other specific distributions)
  5. A contingent gift when the beneficiary you have named predeceases you

Your attorney can help you include a gift to Biblica in your estate documents. Our legal name is:

Biblica, a not-for-profit organization organized in the state of Colorado, with principal offices located at 1820 Jet Stream Dr, Colorado Springs, CO 80921, Federal Tax ID # 84-1194554.

You can also designate a gift today that will be completed in the future by naming Biblica as a beneficiary of banking or investment accounts, life insurance retirement plan assets, and even real estate. Request the appropriate beneficiary designation forms from your account manager to complete the gift designation.

To learn more about basic tools and to help you gather the personal information you will need for the planning process, download Your Estate Planning Guide here.

May we help you review or create an estate plan that can meet your needs, provide for your family and favorite ministries—and honor the principles God has given in His word? 

We have prepared a practical workbook, Your Estate Planning Guide, which you can download here, to help you gather the personal information you will need for your planning process.  Or if you would like to speak with someone regarding your unique situation, please contact us today.