My husband and I recently decided to amend our will. Late last year I joined the Foundation Board for a charitable organization which I care very deeply about. Our goal is to encourage donors to include this organization in their will – deliberate, planned giving at the event of death. So, I thought to myself, if I am going to encourage others to include charitable giving at their death, then I should too. Lead by example, right?
We do not have a lot of assets – trust me! But by working with an organization (Lutheran Planned Giving) whose sole purpose is to guide people in this process, I learned that there is value in this formal designation of assets in a will to a charitable organization – even at my “young” age.
We met and walked through all of the possible scenarios – if Spouse A dies and then Spouse B dies, how are the funds doled out to the Trust? At what age are the funds in the Trust cashed in by the kids? What percentages could go to charity at what age? What (God forbid) would happen with our money if all 4 of us died? On and on – all morbid possibilities considered – as we drank rounds of diet coke’s at a local cafe.
Not pleasant to talk through – but you start to see where it makes sense to allow for charitable giving. We sort through all of the financial stuff, and the last piece was to discuss a Christian preamble. We learned that wills with designated giving will often begin with a Christian preamble – a statement of faith for those you leave behind. We could leave it off, choose from a variety of examples, or write our own.
I immediately said we’d write our own. I like to write, I have an understanding of my faith and am willing to share it. This will be easy!
So, as the informal deadline loomed, I sat down to write the Christian Preamble to our will. I sat in front of my computer with a blank stare. This is a bigger deal than I thought! Who’s going to read it; when will it be read? This may be the last thing I say to my family – what should it say? I can’t just throw together a quick statement of faith. This must mean something!!
In the end I kept it simple. If I live my life right, people will already know what is important to me. They will know my faith, they will know God’s role in my life, and they will know that financial support of organizations that work to make a difference in the world is important to me.
Just for fun, here is a little sneak peak. Hopefully these words will not be seen in the public again for many, many years! May this serve as encouragement to declare your faith in a formal way, and to be certain that the values and truths you hold may live on long after you are gone from this earth.
I, [insert name, residence here], being of sound and disposing mind and memory and being under no restraint, do make, declare and publish this my last Will and Testament, blah, blah blah.
I believe that God revealed God’s self to us through a profound act of love. God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, became human, suffered and died for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole world. This was not the result of any actions on our part, but a free gift of God.
May those who survive me feel comfort knowing that I have died in this faith and have now joined my God in eternal glory. I leave this message from 1 John, and urge you to love one another and share the good news!
God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:9-11