An up-to-date Will is one of the best gifts you can leave for your loved ones, but if the idea is new to you, it can be overwhelming. We understand that finding information is often about asking the right questions, so we’ve assembled answers to some of the ones we hear most often below:
1. Update My Will
You may be surprised to know that your Will should be updated every 3-5 years to remaincurrent. That’s because the ongoing changes in your family, your health, or your financesshould be reflected in your future plans. You’ll experience peace of mind knowing your familyand the ministries you love are taken care of.
2. Pass My Values to the Next Generation
Having an up-to-date Will that includes ministries you love is a fantastic way to share your values with your family and friends, and there are many other ways you can leave a lasting legacy. One very tangible way is by writing a Spiritual Love Letter. This is essentially a letter you write to pass along your Christian values, important life lessons, and a blessing from one generation to the next. And it may be one of the most meaningful gifts your family ever receives from you. Spiritual love letters often contain three important themes:
- Your beliefs and values
- Life lessons
- A message of hope
Although it is not a legal document, you may choose to include a Spiritual Love Letter as part of your Estate Plan. What better way to communicate what you value, what you know to be true, and how you truly feel about those you love most than in your very own words! (See sample here)
3. Reduce My Estate Taxes
Good news! The estate tax exemption is now over $5 million – which means most Americans are no longer concerned about estate taxes because their assets fall below that threshold. If your assets are more than $5 million, there are several things you can do to reduce your estate taxes – here are three of the most common strategies:
- Gift your non cash assets (ie: stocks, bonds, real estate, retirement accounts, etc.) or cash assets directly to family members or ministry organizations.
- Create an estate plan by consulting with a trusted estate planning attorney. Visit www.ChristianWill.org/denver if you need help.
- Use advanced estate planning techniques. For example, you might consider using gift planning vehicles such as a Charitable Remainder Trust or a Charitable Lead Trust where you transfer assets into a trust. Consult your advisers for specific information on what your tax savings would be.
4. Establish A Gift Annuity That Pays Income Higher Than Current CD Rates
A Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA) is a simple concept: you make a gift to charity (part of which is tax deductible), and then you receive fixed annuity payments each year for the remainder of your life with payout rates up to 9% depending on your age. Visit www.theorchard.org for more information.
5. Reduce My Taxes Now with My Charitable Giving
Asset-based giving is a tax-smart way to extend your impact on the cause of Christ. This would include gifts of stocks, real estate, retirement savings, life insurance and other securities. Its many benefits include:
- Less to taxes. By donating non-cash assets first – rather than selling them first, paying taxes and giving the net proceeds – you typically receive a tax deduction for the full fair-market value of your gift, as well as avoid capital gains taxes.
- More to ministry. The capital gains taxes you save from giving the asset directly to charity means more goes to support the work of Christian causes, instead of going to the government.
- Personal savings. Because you receive the full tax deduction for the fair-market value of the asset, you’ll see great savings on your personal income tax returns. This means more money stays in your pocket for your lifestyle expenses and additional giving.
Many individuals have chosen to give appreciated assets to ministry with a “donor advised fund.” The fastest growing charitable vehicle in America today, donor advised funds simplify your giving by allowing you to make a single contribution, and then prayerfully decide what you'd like to support now or over time. Visit www.theorchard.org for more information.
Faith and Family Resources:
- Purpose of a Legacy Love Letter
- Sample Legacy Love Letter
- Setting up Your Legacy File
- Notice of Bequest Letter
- Recommended Resources
- Next Steps in Your Journey
This information is not intended as legal, accounting or other professional advice. For assistance in charitable planning, consult an attorney for legal advice or the services of a qualified professional.