"The Earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell within."
Psalm 24:1 NKJV
The prophet Isaiah warned Hezekiah, "Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order . . ." As stewards of God's creation every Christian is to be prepared for the day when God's gifts and responsibilities will be passed on to others. To this end, a Christian Estate Plan is the final step in total Christian stewardship.
OUR PLANNED GIVING & TRUST SERVICES PROGRAM
Our Trust Services Dept. provides comprehensive estate planning assistance for Illinois Conference members and their families. Our confidential service includes the preparation of Wills, Living Trusts, Charitable Trusts, Gift Annuities, Powers of Attorney, and Living Wills (Medical). For most documents, this service is provided at no cost. And there are no bequest requirements for the preparation of most Wills, Powers of Attorney, or Living Wills.
To insure that you receive quality service, the General Conference has established a certification and accreditation program with standards and policies that govern the operation of all Adventist Trust Services departments. All Trust Services personnel must pass a college-level estate planning course in order to become certified by the General Conference, and all legal documents--Wills, Trusts, etc. must be prepared by an estate planning attorney.
To insure adherence to these requirements, the General Conference Auditing Service (GCAS) annually reviews the operation and files of all Trust Services departments. Only those programs that meet these high standards are awarded GC accreditation. The Illinois Conference has been accredited by the General Conference since 1996, and has more recently been awarded Level "A" accreditation, the highest rating.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIAN ESTATE PLANNING
A Christian Estate Plan can serve several important purposes:
1) Insure that your wishes, not the State of Illinois', determine the distribution of your assets
2) Lessen the burden on your family by simplifying their responsibilities when you are gone
3) Name a guardian and establish a financial plan for the care of minor or special needs children
The heart of a Christian Estate Plan is a Last Will & Testament or a Living Revocable Trust, either of which may be used to distribute your assets when you are laid to rest. Whether a Will or a Trust will best meet your needs and desires generally depends on the value and type of asset you own, how those assets are titled, and you and your family's present and long-term needs and desires.
To protect you and your family should you ever become incapacitated, it is also beneficial to have a Durable Power of Attorney for Property to authorize someone to conduct your business, and a Power of Attorney for Healthcare to authorize someone to consult with your physician and make medical decisions for you. These documents can also be provided through our Trust Services Dept.
Whatever your desires or the needs of your family, a Christian Estate Plan will provide peace of mind and serve as a witness of your gratitude to God for His blessings, and your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
TAX PLANNING FOR LARGE ESTATES
If the total value of your estate is likely to exceed $5.34 million (2014 Federal Estate Tax Exclusion), then you will want to obtain professional tax planning assistance to minimize your tax liability in order to maximize the benefits to those who will share your estate. (Married couples can maximize the use of both of their federal estate tax exemptions by using an AB Trust as part of their estate plan. The purpose of the AB Trust is to divide marital assets between the husband and the wife, in order to take advantage of each spouses federal estate tax exemption. The AB Trust system can be set up under the couples Last Will & Testaments or Revocable Living Trust. The "A Trust" is also referred to as the "Marital Trust" or "QTIP Trust [Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trust]." The "B Trust" is also referred to as the "Bypass Trust" or "Family Trust." Federal Estate Tax may also be reduced by charitable gifts using a Charitable Trust or a Gift Annuity, either of which can be established with our Trust Services Dept.)
GETTING READY TO PREPARE YOUR ESTATE PLAN
To insure that your estate plan meets your needs and desires, prior to the preparation of any documents you will want to gather some personal information and make several important decisions.
Follow these simple steps:
1) Make a list of your assets--accounts, real property, etc--their current value and how titled.
2) Make a list of family, friends, and organizations you wish to receive shares of your estate
3) Select a person to follow the instructions in your Will (Executor) or Trust (Trustee).
4) Select a person to manage your affairs and finances if you become incapacitated (POA).
If you have minor or "special needs" children you will also want to:
5) Select a person to raise your children (Guardian)
6) Select a person to manage your children's inheritance (Trustee)
(Note: Your children's Guardian & Trustee may be the same person. You'll want to select an alternate for each nominee--Executor, Trustee, POA, Guardian.)
With this information in hand you are ready to consult with an estate planning attorney, or our Certified Trust Officer. If you have any questions or wish to make an appointment with a Trust Officer, please call Paul Saint-Villiers at (630) 856-2870, or e-mail us by clicking on a photograph below. We look forward to serving you.
Planned Giving Consultant
For additional estate and gift planning information, including life income agreements such as Gift Annuities and Charitable Trusts, click on the link below to the General Conference Planned Giving & Trust Services website: