Learn more about legacy planning
Answers to your questions about creating a will
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
A legacy plan is a thoughtful, prayer-filled discernment process that communicates how your most closely held values, including your Christian faith, can be passed on to the next generation.
A legacy plan includes legal documents (wills and trusts) that distribute property upon your death and provide for the care of minor children. A legacy plan can also include a written summary (sometimes called a legacy love letter or ethical will) of your most cherished values — values you want your loved ones to know and understand.
The way you choose to design your legacy plan communicates what’s most important to you. When you include a gift in your will to the ministries aligned with your passions, you make a clear declaration to your loved ones about the work that Christ has done in your life and what you want your legacy to express.
A will is a legal document that outlines how your property will be distributed upon your death.
A bequest is a gift of money or property distributed through your will. You can bequeath a gift to your heirs, friends, or to a charity.
A will is part of an estate plan. Details to keep in mind:
- A will deals with the distribution of your assets after you pass away. It can also be used to name guardians for your children.
- Your estate plan should include a health care power of attorney—sometimes called an advanced directive—which names an individual who can make medical decisions if you are incapacitated.
- Your estate plan should also identify a financial power of attorney, which names an individual who can direct and manage your finances if you become incapacitated.
- Some estate plans also include revocable living trusts to provide additional options to protect your assets.
If your estate is simple, you may not need an attorney and could benefit from many of the online will tools available. Here are some questions to help you decide:
- Do you have children with special needs, a blended family, or a remarriage?
- Do you wish to disinherit a family member, are concerned that your estate will be contested, or need to include unique provisions?
- Does your estate include complex assets such as a family business, real estate (in different states), or an estate value over estate tax limits?
If any of these circumstances apply to you, you may wish to consult an attorney. Learn more about finding a lawyer near you.
Yes, these sites offer state-specific legally binding wills. These “fill in the blank” wills provide a simple and cost-effective way for many individuals and families to create and update their will and to formulate a legacy plan. Such wills can often be completed in 30 minutes or less.
Most online will sites guide you through a simple 3-step process:
- Answer Questions. You’ll be guided through a series of fill-in-the-blank questions about your wishes regarding your family, your property, and who you want to name as executor of your will. Most people can complete it within about 30 minutes.
- Review Answers. You’ll have an opportunity to review your own answers for completeness and accuracy. Some sites also provide online tools and “ask a lawyer” features to give you a more in-depth review.
- Finalize documents. The last step is to receive your documents online or in the mail. The online will site will also provide instructions for getting signatures to finalize your documents, as well as storage recommendations.
Learn more about online wills and find links to popular sites.
Simple wills using online tools can be completed for less than $200. Basic wills created with the help of an attorney can cost anywhere from $800-$1,000.
If you do not have a will, the state would determine (without your input):
- Who will be the next steward of your resources
- Who will care for your young children
- Who will administer your estate
Consider these top 10 reasons to update your will:
- Marriage or divorce
- New baby, adopted children, or stepchildren
- Moving to another state
- Changing your mind about heirs
- Major changes in property ownership or financial assets
- Changes in estate planning and estate tax law
- Death or disability of someone named in your will
- Children have reached the age of 18
- You would like to provide for a ministry organization
- It has been three years or more since you have reviewed your will