Either You Write a Will or the State Will

Don't worry, there is no legalese involved here—just a reminder of the importance of writing a will and how it relates to smart stewardship of your resources.

-Courtesy of the St. Barnabas Endowment Committee


This post originally appeared in Episcopal Church Foundation Vital Practices Blog.



Most people prefer not talking about death. Consequently, most people die without a written will. So what happens then?


If you don’t have a will the state has already written one for you. And guess how the state will distribute your assets after you die? Lawyers are first in line, of course. Then taxes, creditors, and finally loved ones. Nothing goes to charity.


Also, your survivors get to pay the maximum in estate and inheritance taxes.


With a will you control applicable taxes, you determine what charities you want to be part of your legacy. You release your family from unnecessary turmoil and delay in settling your estate.


If you don’t have a will, make one. If you haven’t looked at your will in a while, check it out. Even the Book of Common Prayer has something to say about wills. On page 445 it reads:


“The minister of the congregation is directed to instruct the people, from time to time, about the duty of Christian parents to make prudent provision for the well-being of their families, and of all persons to make wills while they are in health, arranging for the disposal of their temporal goods, not neglecting, if they are able, to leave bequests for religious and charitable uses.”


Which in a bizarre way reminds me of a joke. A grandfather was sitting on the porch after dinner with his three young grandsons. The older boy asks the grandfather to make the croaking noise that frogs make. “No, not tonight,” he replied. “I’m not feeling that well.” The second grandson continues. “Please, grandpa, you know the noise we mean. We want to hear the frog croak.”


“Not tonight,” grandpa responded, getting a little annoyed. “Why do you insist on my making the frog noise?”


The smallest grandson pipes up. “Well, mommy says that when Grandpa croaks, we all get to go to Disneyworld.”


To read more reflections like this and to uncover even greater wisdom on ‘creative ways to talk about money in church, check out The Rev. Charles Cloughen, Jr.’s book: One Minute Stewardship here.

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