What Will Be Your Legacy?

As Christians we rejoice with faith in the resurrection. Yet we also know the passage from life to death can be stressful on those who survive us.

You can ease some of that stress by acting now to put your estate plan in order. Who will be executor of your estate? Who will decide how your personal treasures are distributed? In addition to their own grief, can you imagine your loved ones struggling to find life insurance papers, bank accounts and other vital documents?

By creating a legal will or living trust, you can provide your next-of-kin with a peace of mind, knowing that you have already determined how your estate will be distributed and who will care for minor children. They will still grieve, but they won’t face the daunting task of making decisions that you could have made.

A will also provides an excellent opportunity to remember ______________ Christian Church. A gift to the church through your will serves as a testament to your heirs of your faith in God and the resurrection. It provides you with one last opportunity to exemplify what it means to be a good steward, providing for others as God has provided for you during your lifetime. What a blessing you can be to future generations!

Drawing up a will is a simple process, but make sure it is done right. By using expert advisors, such as attorneys and financial planners, your wishes can be honored after you are gone.

Be Deliberate in Planning

The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to the church at Corinth, writes: “So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you, and arrange in advance for this bountiful gift that you have promised, so that it may be ready as a voluntary gift and not as an extortion.” (2 Corinthians 9: 5)

Paul indicates it is not enough to intend to be a good steward. You must plan, and it is by carefully making provisions for a planned gift and implementation of that plan that you will be able to enjoy the fruits of Christian stewardship!

Paul admonishes us to be deliberate in considering the mission and ministry of the church for which the gift will be used. In the case of the Corinthians, Paul reminds them of the great purpose: to alleviate the poverty of the Jerusalem Christians and to help preserve the unity of the church.

Planning to include ________________________ Christian Church in your will involves more than just contacting an attorney and drafting a will. Making a bequest to our church involves thoughtful discussion with your family: spouse, children, perhaps siblings, and others with whom you have an important relationship and those who have a relationship to your estate.

Ultimately, making the right decision will allow you, the giver, to find greater joy and fulfillment in the process and completion of the gift.

Endowing Your Church Pledge

While we consider our annual gifts to God and _____________ Christian Church, we also need to realize we need to look at the “big” or long-term picture of our stewardship.

Did you know you can endow your church pledge so that, in perpetuity, your giving to the congregation will continue? You have the chance to leave a legacy that will positively impact ___________ Christian Church long after your earthly life is over.

This is done by simply creating a permanent fund through the Christian Church Foundation, our denomination’s general ministry devoted to this kind of work. The fund will annually distribute an amount equal to your pledge. This is done by using a simple formula:

        Annual Pledge X 25 =

        Amount Needed in Permanent Fund

This formula assumes a 4% payout and a growth of principal to keep pace with inflation.

For example: Your annual pledge is $5,000. By creating a permanent fund — perhaps through a gift in your will — of $125,000, our congregation will start receiving $5,000 a year. As the fund’s value grows to keep pace or ahead of inflation, the amount distributed to the church in your name also grows.

While it takes just $1,000 to start a permanent fund, many Disciples create planned gifts that name their permanent fund as the charitable beneficiary – thus enabling their permanent fund to reach a level that will allow them to endow their church pledge.

To learn more about how a permanent fund can help _____________ Christian Church, contact our pastor or the Christian Church Foundation, which is the general ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) designed to help church members create a lasting legacy through planned gifts. Foundation development officers are ordained or licensed clergy who understand the church, financial matters and stewardship. To speak to one, call (800) 668-8016.

What Does the Lord Require?

Scriptures tell us to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).  Every day Disciples are praying to discern God’s will for their lives. What does the Lord require of us?

One idea to consider is to create a legacy with your family finances that will continue ministry beyond your lifetime.  You can establish a permanent fund during lifetime and create signed documents that provide for additions at the time of death.  

What ministries do you love?  You decide what ministries will receive an annual distribution from your permanent fund each year for all perpetuity.  

Once you have considered the ministries that you would like to benefit with a legacy gift, consult your professional advisors and a Christian Church Foundation representative for ideas on how choosing certain assets (especially tax-burdened assets like IRAs or 401(k)s ) can increase the overall value of your estate.  Changes to your plan can often be accomplished with simple beneficiary designation form changes, without the expense of revising the will or trust documents already in place.

Permanent funds, such as those held in trust by the Christian Church Foundation, support the ministries of the donor’s choosing. We hope you would consider a legacy gift that would support _____________ Christian Church in your plans.

To learn more about permanent funds through the Foundation, call (800) 668-8016.

Make this the Year of Your Legacy

What better goal for this year than to create your own personal legacy to continue your ministry beyond your own lifetime?  We support our congregation and other ministries with our gifts during our lifetimes, but creating a legacy through a permanent fund means our ministry will continue for all perpetuity.

Create a list of the ministries you love and support now.  Consider your own dreams for those ministries for the future.  Next consider all the goals you have (support your family, provide for your own retirement, provide an education for grandchildren).  

Meet with your professional advisor or Christian Church Foundation representative to learn how informed estate planning can increase the overall value of your estate with a gift of tax-burdened assets (like IRAs, 401(k), or savings bonds) to the church.

Permanent funds, such as those held in trust by the Christian Church Foundation, support the ministries of the donor’s choosing. We hope you would consider a legacy gift that would support _________________________________ Christian Church in your plans.

There will always be the poor, the sick and the disenfranchised in our world.  We will always need to help provide for ministerial education. Long after our lifetimes there will be people teaching other people about Jesus Christ.  Create your legacy now to support these ministries now and beyond your lifetime.  

To learn more, contact the church office or the Christian Church Foundation, the general ministry of the church that helps members and congregations with planned gifts and permanent funds, at (800) 668-8016.

Simple Ways to Give

One of the simplest ways to leave a gift to First Christian Church is to use the beneficiary designation on savings and retirement accounts, as well as life insurance policies. These can be done with no cost, and typically only require us to sign a new beneficiary designation form.

Retirement assets and similar accounts are called Income in Respect of a Decedent  (IRD) assets. This is taxable income that's earned during life but not received before death, so it is never included in an income tax return. This may be assets in Individual Retirement Accounts or 403(b) plans, accrued interest on Certificates of Deposit and savings bonds, nonqualified stock options, deferred payments of capital gains, or other income that is earned but not acquired.

Naming the church as the beneficiary of these gives the estate and heirs the best tax benefits, since it avoids both income and estate taxes.

Life insurance that is no longer needed also can be an excellent gift, too. Naming the church as a primary or contingent beneficiary of an existing or new life insurance policy will result in a federal estate tax deduction for the full amount of the proceeds payable to the church regardless of policy size.

Because individual situations vary, be sure to consult your financial and tax advisors, as well as the Christian Church Foundation, the general ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) designed to help church members create a lasting legacy through planned gifts. The Foundation can be reached at (800) 668-8016.