Bequests & Estate Planning

Jesus had a will. Not the conventional kind, but he left explicit instructions for the distribution of his love in the Scriptures. It is all spelled out in the New Testament. How about your will? Is your love for God spelled out through the gifts you make?

Outlive Your Life

Literature tells us that while 70 percent of Americans make charitable gifts, only 6 percent of them extend their caring to causes they care about in their wills. Many Catholics hold the belief that estate planning to include their church is only for the wealthy. It makes no difference how much or how little you have; all of us can make a gift, one that serves as our final act of stewardship that will make a difference in the lives of future generations.

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 St. Juliana Parish. 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. Need our legal name and contact information? Jeanne Anderson can help.

Simple Ways to Give

One of the simplest ways to leave a gift to St. Juliana Parish 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 you 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 IRA or 403(b) plans, accrued interest on CDs and savings bonds, non-qualified stock options, deferred payments of capital gains, or other income that is earned but not acquired.

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.

Retirement Assets can be a Tax Burden

A retirement account, such as an IRA, 401(k), or 403(b), often comprises a large portion of a person’s wealth. Yet did you know they are the most heavily taxed–and a perfect instrument for making a charitable gift at death?

The way in which you distribute the assets in your retirement accounts can reflect your faith and values. By naming St. Juliana Parish as beneficiary of your retirement account, you can pass on assets you no longer can use, and spare your estate the tax burden affiliated with these plans.

Simply ask the manager of your account to send you a beneficiary designation form, and complete it with the proper legal name of St Juliana Parish. Doing so allows the funds to pass tax-free. Remember to consult your financial advisors on the ramifications of this decision since individual circumstances vary.

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. Questions? Want more information? Contact Jeanne Anderson.

Some Thoughts on Planning

  • Who will write your will? The State of Illinois will (unless you do) and the state won’t include a bequest for St. Juliana Parish.
  • Is God’s will in your will?
  • Everyone knows of someone who died and whose estate to years to settle. Your will can help your family and your church, and save unnecessary expenses at death.
  • Who needs a will? Every adult who owns anything and cares what happens to it. Also anyone who wants to leave a bequest for St. Juliana Parish.
  • Did you name a final beneficiary in your will, in case all others predecease you? St. Juliana Parish will always be here.
  • When you need a will it will be too late to write one. Don’t wait.
  • You can’t take it with you, so why not leave it where you know it will do some good.
  • Are you leaving a legacy of “red tape” for your heirs? A legal will can cut confusion.
  • What will become of your property at death? If it is not needed by heirs, consider leaving it to St. Juliana Parish.
  • Your will speaks for you after your death. Have you included a bequest to further your faith?
  • Already have a will and want to add St. Juliana Parish? You don't have to start over; ask your attorney about adding a codicil to include the parish.
  • Be a WILLing Christian; include a bequest in your will.
  • By remembering St. Juliana Parish in your will, you help us continue to offer our ministries for future generations.
  • Seven out of ten of us do not have a will! What are we thinking? Do we not care what happens to the assets, however few, we will leave behind? Wills are not just for the wealthy.
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The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

2 Corinthians 9:6