By Jeff Henderson
Special to The Witness
A recent poll indicated that less than half of all adults have a current will or, frankly, any type of written estate plan. If there is no written will or written estate plan the courts will be left to decide how all the assets accumulated in a lifetime will be distributed to loved ones and the government in the form of estate taxes.
No matter a person’s level of income, financial status, wealth or age a will is essential. A will provides the roadmap for survivors and the court to follow ensuring that the accumulated assets all individuals have will be given according the person’s desires. A will provides peace of mind knowing that survivors will be much less likely to dispute how assets are to be divided or “who gets the family heirloom.” Creating this roadmap by having a will is often referred to as “planned giving.”
In addition to taking care of loved ones, planned giving provides one with an opportunity to express love to a parish, Catholic school, perhaps a cemetery, or even an archdiocesan program such as seminary education, Catholic Charities, priest retirement, etc.
All are called to be stewards of all that God has gifted to us in our lifetime. Sacrificially giving back some of those gifts to the church is part of being a responsible steward. Giving back some of God’s gifts as part of estate planning and the creation of a will is perhaps the final act of stewardship a person does in his/her lifetime.
To assist all with this planning the Catholic Foundation for the Archdiocese of Dubuque (CFAD) has developed a will planner available free of charge at http://www.ourcatholicfoundation.org. It is also possible to have a complimentary will planner mailed, by calling Jeff Henderson at 563-556-2580 ext. 307. This document can assist anyone to confidentially develop a plan step by step. The step-by-step process includes everything from naming an executor, to guardianship issues, information about finances, life insurance, as well as the wishes as to how assets will be divided. Once completed, the final step is to contact an attorney who can then draft the Will from the information provided.
Having a current Will means the decision as to how assets are divided rests with the person and not the court or loved ones. Ensuring a portion of those assets go to a parish, Catholic School, cemetery, an archdiocesan program and other beloved charities serves as a final act of stewardship for all Christians. In other words, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Henderson is the director of development for the Archdiocese of Dubuque. HIs photo is featured above.