Are you one of the nearly 67% of American adults who don’t have a will? Then National Make-A-Will Month, observed each August, is a perfect time to make end-of-life decisions. (And if you do have a will, allow this month to serve as a reminder to review and update your will.)
Wills are not just for rich people. Everyone should have a will. If a person doesn’t have a will, the state will impose a pattern of distribution of assets. That pattern may or may not be what the deceased would have wanted. That’s one reason it’s important to have a will. With a will, an individual decides how to distribute assets. That could be cash savings, real estate, or stocks. It could just as easily be an antique glass collection, photos and slides from three decades of vacations, or specialty tools for quilting or woodworking. What happens to digital accounts, another type of asset, can also be resolved in a will.
Having a will can also be seen as a gift to loved ones. It helps those who survive know what to do. The presence of a will has the potential, too, to stave off arguments among survivors. It’s no guarantee that two grandchildren aren’t going to fight over who gets the collection of troll dolls, but at least grandma’s will can make it clear who she wants to inherit that special collection.
With a will, a person can plan for those in their care. A legal guardian for children can be named (is that something one would want to leave to the state to decide?). Who will care for Fluffy or Rover? That can be established in a will too.
Some people find it challenging in their lifetimes to be as generous as they would like to be. Tithing may be somewhat beyond what a person has been able to accomplish during their lifetime. But setting aside a tithe in a will to a local congregation or a church college is as simple as saying “ten percent of my estate shall go to [insert institution].”
Whether you are creating a will now or reviewing an existing one, pause this month to consider what you value and make sure those values are reflected in your will. If your participation in Women of the ELCA has been important throughout your lifetime, then won’t you remember Women of the ELCA with a gift through your estate plan? Such a gift can help ensure that long after your life on this side of God’s commonwealth is over, other women will experience the importance of the church’s women’s organization.
Right now, you might consider making an estate gift to 2122: Growing Katie’s Fund for the next 100 years, a campaign to raise $1 million for Katie’s Fund that is designed to support the organization into the next 100 years of mission and ministry. Learn more about the campaign and ways in which you can support it.