My good friends at the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation are encouraging all pastors to become more thoughtful about planning for our future and the needs of our loved ones. Andy Oden and I have put together the following thoughts to invite you to join me in thinking seriously about estate planning and especially about your will.
The couple said they would complete their will as soon as they returned from their Colorado ski trip. Unfortunately they were killed in a plane crash. Several relatives brought papers showing they were to have guardianship over the three children at their parents’ death. No one could agree, so the children were kept under state care while a legal battled waged. Finally, with the estate’s money exhausted and family members hating each other, the children were given to one set of grandparents. If only this couple had taken care of business and made a will.
Her words were so sweet. She leaned over and whispered into my ear, “I’ve included a bequest to the church in my will.” The eyes of this 80-year-old woman literally danced with excitement at her news.
A will can provide for how a person’s children and assets are taken care of according to their wishes, at the time of death. And a bequest can make such a difference in the future life of your church. When a bequest is invested in an endowment fund, it can provide regular income – above the church budget – for missions, music, children’s programs, building maintenance, and special projects. If fact, I know of several churches in our District whose health and vitality have been greatly enhanced by the generosity of bequests.
Because nationally only about 30% of people have a will, I’m urging every pastor and church in the Ardmore District to get involved in a special emphasis this year that will help members of your congregation understand the value of having a current will and of including a bequest for your church. One of the last things I can do for the Ardmore District is to urge you all to update your will (if you have one) or draw out a new will if you do not.
The Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation has offered to help by providing a wills emphasis program that includes several webpage, newsletter or bulletin articles, a short congregational survey, and notes for brief presentations by church members on two consecutive Sundays. In addition, we will provide Wills Seminars at churches across our District. Together we can help our people plan how they want to steward their assets with family and charitable organizations.
I am sending this letter to all pastors in our district. If you have any questions, call me or Andy Oden, director of Foundation Relations at the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation, at 405-609-3106