LCN Article
Where There’s a Will…

November / December 2023

Dexter B. Wakefield

The Church’s demographics are changing. Two or three decades ago, most of our members had come from our former association, and many of them were longtime Church members. Since then, many new people have come in. In addition, recent years have seen quite a few weddings of second- and third-generation members, and it’s great to see all their kids at services. We grandparents love it! It’s wonderful to see the teens and young families bring their liveliness and energy to fellowship on the Sabbath.

Many who came into the Church in the 1970s and 1980s (or earlier) have moved into retirement, so we are seeing the primary source of the Church’s regular income transition to faithful newer generations. Many of the new attendees and baptisms that we are seeing are from that newer group. God always provides for His work!

The demographics of retirement have also brought other changes to the Church’s finances. People in society often remember their church or favorite charities in their wills, and some of our members have been very thoughtful to remember the Church in their planned giving. We greatly appreciate it, and we thank you! It is an important source of support for God’s work.

Whether or not you remember the Church in your planned giving, it is important to your loved ones that you have a well-drawn will, or other testamentary instrument. Without one, things can be difficult for your survivors, and a poorly drawn one can be problematic. Preparing a thoughtfully considered testamentary instrument is an act of love.

It’s good to seek the advice of legal counsel or a financial advisor, and most counselors advise even young couples or single adults to prepare testamentary instruments. Going through probate court can take years and can incur substantial costs, so it’s wise to lawfully route assets around that possibility. Bank accounts, stock accounts, retirement accounts, and similar documents can have a designated beneficiary upon death. And, in most states, real estate can be transferred to a designated successor or beneficiary by filing a special deed that transfers the property automatically upon death while keeping owners in full control during their lifetime.

End-of-life healthcare is also an important consideration, and setting forth your wishes in advance relieves loved ones of difficult decisions at a difficult time. The end-of-life healthcare that you don’t want may be as important a consideration as the healthcare you do want. Such matters are important personal decisions that can be made in advance. Advance healthcare directives are only used when individuals can’t voice their wishes themselves, and are usually coupled with a durable power of attorney for healthcare, allowing important decisions to be made without difficulty. An attorney can give detailed advice on what is needed in your state or country of residence. Some states offer premade forms for their citizens to use.

You can also request our helpful free booklet Planned Giving, or you can read or download it at Local congregations should also have a copy of the booklet on their information tables.

You know the old saying: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” That saying can be applied in more than one circumstance—if you don’t have a well-drawn will, there may not be a way for your wishes to be carried out. A little planning can make a big difference!