by Rev. Richard Evans
I continue to be amazed at statistics that cite the large number of people who do not have a WILL. A survey last year from RocketLawyer.com, a legal services web site, found that 50% of Americans with children do not have a will. Even more alarming, 41% of baby boomers (age 55-64) don't have one. The top three reasons cited by survey respondents for not having a will: procrastination, a belief that they don't need one, and cost.
A national poll several years ago by Bankrate Inc. showed that 57% of Americans had made no such provision. Although three quarters of the respondents said that everyone needs a WILL, many simply don't follow through. Of those 50 years and older, 63% do have a WILL, although 90% of that age group said that they wanted to make their death as easy as possible on their families.
I suppose it is a human tendency to postpone or avoid things that seem sad and un- pleasant—like death. But the results of such procrastination can be huge. Without a valid WILL or TRUST, the state decides how assets get distributed, heirs may quarrel over property, and parents may not be able to determine who will care for their dependent children. Prepar- ing a WILL is one of the most important and considerate things you can do for your surviving family members—and for yourself.
Although some "do-it-yourselfers" decide to write their own, a simple WILL drafted by an attorney usually is worth the cost of several hundred dollars—both to avoid mistakes and to benefit from legal advice. For more complex estates, a Revocable Living TRUST may be a good alternative. The cost may be several thousand dollars but the result, usually, is to avoid probate. The combined costs of a WILL and probate often are similar to the cost of preparing a Revocable Living TRUST.
Once you have a WILL or TRUST, however, don't become too complacent. Those docu- ments should be reviewed periodically, and possibly revised, as your circumstances change. A good rule of thumb is to review them at least every 10 years and/or when you change your residence to a different state.
When you create or revise your WILL, why not name your church (and possibly some favorite charities) among the beneficiaries of your estate? That is a wonderful way to extend your Christian stewardship beyond your lifetime. If you
would like to discuss possibilities for specific designation of such a gift to our church, call Pastor Tom or me. And if your bequest to First United Methodist Church of Gilford is invested in the Endowment Fund, the annual earnings will keep on "giving" forever—in your memory. What a legacy! If you have named FUMCG in your WILL or TRUST, why not let Pastor Tom know. He doesn't need to know any details; only that you have done it. We'd like to thank you for your faith, your foresight, and your generosity in planning for a deferred gift to the church.
Yes, where there's a WILL, there's a way!
by Rev. Richard Evans
Myrna and I love the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Myrna's maternal grandparents once owned Three Maples Cottages in Winnisquam and, as a child, she visited them there . When she was growing up, her family vacationed at Lakeshore Park for many summers. Her parents built a retirement house on Shore Drive in Laconia and lived there for a few years. We and our children visited them frequently and enjoyed times at the beach on Lake Winnisquam during the late 1960s and early 70s.
In 1975 we bought a year-round house located in Keewaydin Park Association at Alton Bay. Often we rented it during the winters but we occupied it ourselves during the summers. As a public school teacher in Reading MA, Myrna spent July and August each year at Alton Bay with our four children. As Pastor of the Wilmington MA UMC, and then as Assistant to the Bishop, I commuted to Alton Bay on days off and spent most of my vacation there. We often worshipped at FUMCG on summer Sundays.
After our children were grown, we began planning for the first phase of our retirement in a warmer climate. We considered selling the house at Alton Bay but realized that we would be liable for a substantial amount in capital gain tax. (The value of the property had almost tripled during the 20 years that we had owned it). So, with the advice of a financial planner, we gave the property as a charitable gift to the newly established United Methodist Foundation of New England to create a Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT). The UMFNE sold it and the funds were invested for us.
We avoided capital gains taxes entirely and we received a substantial charitable tax deduction—more than we could take in the year of the gift, so we carried it over and applied the balances for two more years.
I retired in 1997 and we moved to Florida, where we lived for 14 years, before return- ing to New England to be closer to our family. (And Wesley Woods, in the heart of the Lakes Region, is an ideal location for us at this time in our lives). Each year since I retired, we have received quarterly payments from the trust. When one of us pre-deceases the other, the sur- vivor will continue to receive payments for the rest of her/his life.
And when we both are gone, the remainder from our trust will be distributed to sev- eral of our favorite charities—according to our instructions. Although the CRT itself is irrevocable, the list of charities is not. We have changed the list a couple of times to include different charitable organizations.
We enjoy the income stream from the trust and we are glad that, in the future, the remainder will help to support some charitable causes important to us.
Our planned and deferred gift has worked well for us. CRTs are not for everyone, but they can be very effective in some circumstances—especially with highly appreciated property. If you are interested in similar kinds of planned and de- ferred gifts, I would be glad to talk with you about our experi- ence. Call me at 603-556-9331.
A Check List
Here are some things to consider as you review your Will.
- 1. Name & Legal Residence. Have you moved or have you purchased property in another
- state since drafting your Will?
- 2. Revocation of Prior Will. Do you need to revoke a misplaced Will?
- 3. Name of Executor/Personal Representative. Is the person you have named still living
- and capable of representing you?
- 4. Specific Bequests. Do you wish to direct or re-direct certain amounts or items to
- specific individuals, organizations, churches, or charities?
- 5. Residual Estate. To whom have you assigned what is left after payment of administra-
- tive expenses? Possibly the church and/or a favorite charity?
- 6. Survivor Clause. Have you designated the "presumed order of death" in the event that
- you and your spouse should die in a joint disaster?
- 7. Fiduciary Powers. What powers do you wish your executor or personal representative
- To have over the disposition of your property?
- 8. Signature, Witnesses, Notarization. What will be necessary in the state in which you
- make or amend your Will?
Well, how did you do? Is it time to update your Will? And, if you don't have a Will or Trust, please consider having one prepared ASAP. Otherwise the state in which you live at the time of your death will determine the disposition of your property.--Submitted by Rev. Richard Evans (for the Endowment Committee)
- Did you know that there are many creative and tax-saving ways to arrange a Deferred Gift to the church—some with financial benefits to you now?
- Did you know that it is easy to remember the church in your Will or Trust—simply by naming First United Methodist Church, Gilford as a beneficiary of a specific amount or of a portion of your estate?
- Did you know that a Life Insurance Policy you no longer need can become a gift to the church—simply by naming FUMC Gilford as beneficiary?
- Did you know that a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA), purchased through the United Methodist Foundation of New England and naming FUMC Gilford as beneficiary, will give you an attractive income stream for the rest of your life—with the remainder given to the church after your death?
- Did you know that you can arrange for a portion of an IRA or other Retirement Plan to be given directly, or by naming FUMC Gilford as beneficiary, without any tax being paid?
- Did you know that highly appreciated Stocks and Real Estate can become gifts to FUMC Gilford, avoiding capital gain taxes and receiving charitable income tax deductions?
- Did you know that any deferred gift to FUMCG’s Endowment Fund may be Designated for a specific purpose, or left Undesignated—the annual interest to be used for Capital Repairs and Improvements, Educational Ministries, and Missional Outreach?
- Did you know that all persons who arrange Deferred Gifts to FUMCG become members of a group of faithful disciples of Jesus Christ whose stewardship continues long after their life- times? Did you know that FUMCG expresses deep gratitude to these fore-sighted and gener- ous people?
- Did you know that you can receive more information about Planned and Deferred Gifts by calling a member of the Endowment Committee?