As with most things, the world’s way of approaching estate planning is profoundly different from God’s way. Estate planning affects literally everything we consider ours. Because of that, it is the single most important act of stewardship we will ever undertake.
Sometimes an event causes a person to confront their mortality, and they engage in introspection about their relationships and values. Possibly the person is stimulated to complete an estate plan they have long postponed and finally take the steps to ensure that their wishes are fulfilled. Maybe they start thinking about the ways they can use lifetime accumulations to make a difference for God’s Kingdom in the lives of the next generation.
As believers we understand that God is the owner of everything; in estate planning we are merely arranging to transfer stewardship responsibility, hopefully in a way that would please the One who has created and who owns all things.
God said in Psalm 50:10-12, “. . . for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.”
In preparing our estate we are faced with a number of fundamental considerations that go to the heart of creating an estate plan that reflects God’s priorities. How shall I provide for my family members? What kind of eternal impact do I want to make through ministries that have been important to me and my loved ones over the course of our lives?
At the Kentucky Baptist Foundation, we emphasize that a complete estate plan is an affirmation of the meaning of your life—what you ultimately value, your affections and the ways in which you want your life to have made a difference for God’s Kingdom.
Because the tools and techniques available to the believer are equally available to the non-Christian, there can inherently be nothing about the tools themselves that make an estate plan “Christian.” Rather, it’s the design of the estate plan.
It is the prayer and careful thought put into it that will determine how well it reflects biblical priorities.
Richard Carnes is president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation.