My wife and I are in our mid-forties and we just celebrated birthdays in July. We also just revised our estate plan. You may ask why would we do that when we are only in our 40’s? Several years ago, I had to face some very difficult decisions concerning my parents. Fortunately for me, my parents had the foresight to have everything planned and provided me with a road map. They had wills and kept them updated, listing me as Power of Attorney on all medical and financial matters.
The will was a living will and very detailed. When the time came to make difficult decisions concerning my father in his final days, I knew exactly what he wanted. This included medical as well as financial decisions.
I have seen families splinter when faced with end of life decisions. Thanks to my father’s foresight, there was no conflict for my family – only support for honoring his wishes, especially in the last days of his declining health.
This experience convinced my wife and me to make a will and other estate planning documents. My wife and I do not have children we need to spare from end of life decisions (unless you count pets in which case we have six: three dogs and three cats!). However, we do have organizations and causes we care about. We are of modest income, but we know that even small donations can make a big impact in people’s lives.
We identified five organizations that we want to support when we are both in God’s hands. My wife chose a deaf education school and a pet rescue while I chose Chatfield College, and a local soccer club in Virginia that helped get me started as a child. Together, my wife and I agreed to support our Alma matter, Flagler College, a small liberal arts college in St Augustine, Florida. We both benefited greatly from our time there and have a huge passion for its mission.
I encourage everyone to think about the possibilities of planned giving no matter what your income may be. You have an opportunity to make a lasting impact on the organizations that you hold dear to your heart.
There are many ways to support an organization in an estate plan. You may remember the organization in your will. Or, before death, you might elect to allocate the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from an IRA or qualified retirement plan to a nonprofit – a great way to direct dollars that would go to taxes to a worthy cause.
I welcome the opportunity to discuss planned giving options with you. Remember, it is never too early to start thinking about how you can make a difference, forever, to a worthy organization.
James Ludwig, Director of Development