When composing or updating wills and estate documents, a couple will naturally discuss how to divide their estate. Many questions arise during these discussions. Do you leave equal amounts to your children? Will each child be a wise steward of the inheritance or have they proven irresponsible with money? Should differing amounts spent for each child's education impact the division? Do you include any provisions for legacy gifts to the charities with which you are connected?
These are difficult questions, and parents often delay creating or updating a will to avoid answering them. As we wrestle with these questions, keep the following in mind:
n During their lifetimes, parents often give unequal amounts to children based on different needs—but they hesitate to leave unequal bequests, for they don't want their last words to seem to convey unequal affection.
n If you do plan to leave unequal bequests to your children, talk to them while you are living: explain what you are doing and why.
n You can treat children and family members fairly without providing for them in the same way. For example, a prudent way to provide for a family member who is irresponsible or unsophisticated with money is through a trust from which the family member will receive regular income but have limited access to principal of the trust.
n Your Christian values can be a part of your estate legacy. By including your church and other Christian ministries in your estate plan, you set an example to your family and community of your commitment as a Christ follower.
The Kentucky Baptist Foundation is honored to work with individuals seeking how best to organize their estate planning priorities. Our staff works to help clients achieve their personal and charitable goals, including how to provide for their families and support their church and other Baptist causes. We cannot relieve you of the hard choices you have to make when dividing your estate among children and other family members, but we can assist you with ways to make estate gifts to fulfill your family and charitable objectives. To learn more, you may contact the Foundation staff at our toll-free number (866) 489-3533.
Richard Carnes is the president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation, PO Box 436389, Louisville, KY 40253; toll-free (866) 489-3533; KYBaptistFoundation.org