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!