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Jun 01, 2012

In his book Living in the Light of Eternity, author K.P. Yohannan asks readers to consider what will matter one hundred years from now. For Christians, one very practical response to that question is to make sure that you have an up-to-date Will. It is perhaps the easiest and most tangible way to have a lasting impact on your family for generations to come.

Here are 6 things to think about and pray through as you consider how best to plan for your family’s future:

  1. Children. Has your family situation changed? Did you have small children when you first designed your estate plan? Or are they grown and selfsufficient now? Has there been a death in your family, changing your situation and requiring a change to your estate plan?
  2. Finances. Has your financial situation changed (or is it about to change)? Perhaps you are thinking about selling your home, a business, real estate. Or perhaps you are planning for retirement. It could be that through the Lord’s blessing, the size of your estate has increased so that estate and gift tax consequences are now a concern.
  3. Net Worth. Most people underestimate the value of their estate. When assessing your net worth, don’t forget to include the face value of insurance policies, retirement benefits, and the value of your home. If you do not prepare an estate plan, the state has one prepared for you and will determine the guardianship of minor children and the recipients of your assets.
  4. Ministry. Do you want to have a greater and more lasting impact for God’s kingdom? Does your family share your passion for the Lord’s work? By adjusting your plan to include Christian ministries such as Bethany Christian Services in your Will, you can engage your family with a powerful model of biblical stewardship. Many believers inadvertently omit gifts to Christian causes altogether. This results in an estate plan that does not fit their values and is not the legacy they wish to leave as their last statement concerning what they believe is most important.
  5. Stewardship. The purpose of estate planning is not primarily to avoid taxes. God calls us to be good stewards of everything He has entrusted to us. We are obligated to handle our finances in a way that honors God and His kingdom. A thoughtfully prepared estate plan will not only embody your final wishes, but will also honor God in the allocation and transfer of the assets He gave you to manage.
  6. Planning. Sometimes people will try to avoid the time and costs associated with planning by simply naming their children as beneficiaries of their life insurance and retirement benefits. The unintended consequence of this is that children may receive cash distributions from these benefits as early as age 18.