This week – March 31 through April 5 – has been declared Make A Will Week by the British Columbia Ministry of Justice. Making a will is one of those potentially uncomfortable adult tasks that we often want to avoid, yet having a valid will is the best way to ensure that the people and charities who matter to you will be taken care of when you pass.
While the Ministry of Justice website has a considerable list of resources to help you with the important legal and financial considerations in planning your estate, it helps to take a bit of time before you get to those technical issues and consider questions such as:
- What and who really matters to me?
- What legacy would be meaningful to leave in my community?
- After my family is taken care of, what might I leave to charity?
- Is there anyone (a spouse or other family member) who I should include in answering these questions?
Once you know what you’d like to have happen, it’s important to make sure that the people in your life are aware of your wishes. Here are some suggestions (taken from Forbes Magazine online) on how to make the important questions and potentially difficult conversations about estate planning easier:
- Choose (or plan) a quiet moment with few distractions to approach the subject – a Sunday drive, an evening walk, or a quiet moment after dinner, for example.
- Open with a story. We have a few about the legacies that have been left in our care, or you may want to talk about what has worked – or not – regarding how people you know have left their estates.
- Consider who, besides your spouse, you need to talk to and whether those conversations, for example with adult children, should happen en masse or individually.
- Give people who matter to you room for input, and be willing to explain your thinking, values, and decision-making process.
- Finally, be sure to confirm your decisions with a neutral third-party professional: your financial advisor, accountant, a notary public, or your lawyer – to ensure that what you intend will be carried out in your estate and that the written document reflects your intentions.
- By the way, remember to update your will after important life events (for example. the birth or death of an heir or dependent, a significant change in estate value, a change in marital status)
There are many ways to include charitable giving in this process, and many great reasons to do so. We are happy to provide information on the how, what and why to give, and encourage you, again, always to check with your estate planning professional on what makes the most sense for your estate.
Approaching estate planning as an assessment of what you value changes the conversation from one that brings up ghoulish spectres to one that focuses on your values, on a Biblical standard of stewardship, and as a legacy-creating gift that provides for what matter to you beyond your life.
If you’d like to talk to someone about bequeathing a gift to The Cridge Center for the Family, please call or email Shannon Whissell: (250) 995-6419 or PlannedGiving@cridge.org
1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”