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Legacy in the Bible: Creating Standing Stones

1 week ago By The Signatry

There are many examples of God’s people intentionally building legacy in the Bible. After God spoke to Jacob and said to him, “Your name shall be Israel,” Jacob set up a stone pillar and called the place Bethel (Genesis 35:14). After God spoke to Moses and gave him the Ten Commandments, Moses got up early the next morning and stood up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel (Exodus 24:4). And for Joshua, he set up twelve stones from the river Jordan to remember God’s clearing of the river for safe passage. He told the Israelites to use the stones as a reminder to tell their descendants about what the Lord had done for them (Joshua 4:21-24). Each of these examples of legacy in the Bible have a common theme: “standing stones.” The Israelites regularly used “standing stones” to remember a covenant with the Lord and to mark the significant events for their descendants to remember. The same concept can apply to us. Our legacy is not just about monetary transfer of wealth or even passing along a good family name. Biblical legacy is about the standing stones you place throughout your life as you pass the values, faith lessons, and inner wealth on to next generations. Create Legacy God wants us to create historic markers. “They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan … as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down.” (Joshua 4:8) Intentionally marking the points in our life that have impacted our character, family members, and faith creates the opportunity to pass a family legacy.   Tel Gezer is one of the iconic sites of standing stones still in tact today. Like Gezer, many early stones were set up by pagans, and their significance is now unknown today. The custom of establishing standing stones was eventually adopted by the Israelites and used by many to remember God’s work on behalf of His people.   In the gospels, Jesus repeatedly emphasized the important teachings of His ministry that would become His legacy. 1 John 2:6 reminds us that whoever claims to abide in Jesus must walk as Jesus walked. Jesus journeyed with those whom He loved to show the way. He also stopped time and time again to share a parable which the disciples could use to create a clear memory of His teachings. You can mark the moments of your life that establish your family legacy, like standing stones, by journeying with your family, spending time in person or through writings, and communicating the wisdom you have gained through your experiences. Write a family mission statement together as your very own standing stone of remembrance. Remember It is important to look back. Joshua told the Israelites at Gilgal, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’” (Joshua 4:21-22). Throughout the Bible, we see the importance placed on tradition and remembrance. Even Jesus sought to establish a way for His disciples to remember His sacrifice. “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” (Luke 22:19) Have you established tradition with your family? Consider setting up specific family meetings to consistently share the written and verbal stories of what has shaped you and your family name. Hang that family mission statement in a common place for all to be reminded of what drives your family. Impart and Entrust Joshua set up the twelve stones “so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” (Joshua 4:24). Joshua’s careful action after the Jordan river crossing teaches us that these stones also serve to remind God’s people that they are to represent God’s glory to the rest of the world. Perhaps God has blessed you in some way or an event has changed the way you walk with the Lord. In your shared stories, include the eternal lessons about God’s promise, His power as Comforter, Teacher, and Savior to mankind. What are the lessons you take away from these stories of legacy in the bible? What are your standing stones? 1 Peter 2:5 tells us that “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house.” Not only are we called to create standing stones, but we are also to remember them with our loved ones and to share the lessons of impact they had on our character, faith, values, family history, and life. The sight of stones erected by many in Biblical times may hint of a previous significant event, but without their story, without the intentional remembering and imparting of their significance, their legacies are lost. Intentionally pass on your family legacy.   Originally Published February 19, 2021.

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Become a Trusted Voice on Inheritance Planning

3 weeks ago By Jake Tometich

Amid the well-publicized $60+ trillion intergenerational wealth transfer taking place, many of your clients may be the provider or receiver of an inheritance. This is an opportune time to help your clients and their families thoroughly incorporate inheritance into their estate planning. Most inheritances are “small” — at least, they may be smaller sums than we expect. The Federal Reserve has stated about 50% of all inheritances amount to $50,000 or less, and approximately 30% are between $50,000 and $250,000. Only 2% of all inheritances exceed $1 million. For most, maximizing the use of every dollar in an inheritance is a high priority. You can help your clients maximize these dollars by offering practical decision-making advice as well as the financial planning tools to execute their decisions. This is an opportunity to become a trusted resource for your client’s whole family. In over 90% of wealth transfers from one generation to the next, the financial advisor of the giver loses the client relationship to the advisor of the recipient. Your expertise and care for your client’s future generations, as well as the client’s inheritance and estate planning goals, can help strengthen those relationships. The heart behind the inheritance Determining who receives an inheritance and how much each person receives can be a difficult, emotional process. You can help your client weigh these decisions. For example, Bill High suggests five questions your clients can ask about their inheritors’ readiness to receive. Your client may also want to discuss the opportunities to include a charitable organization as a beneficiary of their inheritance. And if your client feels unsure about where to begin, you can help them get started by discussing the principles of inheritance in the Bible. Complex estate planning tools for your clients Furthermore, there’s an opportunity to become the legacy giving expert among donors and non-profits in your community. You can help your clients, their inheritors, and any charities they support understand the giving and estate planning tools available. Inherited non-cash assets — including private business interests, collectibles, and real estate — are more complex than cash gifts. These complex gifts are where The Signatry can add tremendous value by working with you to navigate the nuances and challenges inherent with these noncash inheritances. For example, charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder unitrusts are just two of the many tools your clients could use right now to build a sustainable, generosity-driven estate plan. The Signatry can help you and your clients sort through the details. Whatever the size or complexity, helping your clients think through decisions about their inheritance and estate plans now can reap enormous benefits for your clients, their inheritors, and the causes they are passionate about supporting.

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Estate Plans, Life Insurance, and Donor Advised Funds

4 weeks ago By The Signatry

As you think through estate planning, here are some ways that you can continue your legacy of generosity through your life insurance and charitable beneficiaries. Donor advised funds are tools not only for today’s generosity but also for a legacy that endures even after your passing. Donors can maximize the power of their donor advised fund by naming their fund as the beneficiary of life insurance, retirement accounts, and other similar assets. Learn more about how to integrate lasting generosity through your estate planning by using these creative donor advised fund options. Life Insurance There are a couple of different estate planning strategies that can expand your generosity by including a donor advised fund as a life insurance beneficiary: Name your donor advised fund at The Signatry as the beneficiary of the life insurance policy. By doing this, the proceeds of the policy will be placed in your donor advised fund and can be granted to charities you have recommended. While there is no income tax deduction in this strategy, this option still allows for incredible generosity to flow from the proceeds of the life insurance policy when the policy owner passes away. Gift your current policy. By donating a life insurance policy, The Signatry becomes the owner of the policy, which would include responsibility for paying any unpaid premiums. The donor may receive a charitable income tax deduction, and when the donor eventually passes away, the proceeds from the policy will go to his/her donor advised fund and can be granted to recommended charities. We encourage you to connect with our team to learn more about how your scenario matches a specific estate planning strategy. Charitable Beneficiaries We typically think of naming children as beneficiaries within estate plans. What about including charities? Naming a charitable beneficiary is one great way to prioritize generosity in your estate plan. Here are just a couple ways a donor advised fund could serve as that charitable beneficiary: Name your donor advised fund as a beneficiary in your will. There are multiple types of bequests that you could use to designate how your estate will be distributed. You could specify set dollar amounts to be contributed to a donor advised fund when the estate is distributed. Alternatively, you could allocate a portion of the estate to be contributed to the fund. We encourage you to discuss options with your professional advisor and see how a donor advised fund works best for the generosity you wish to see carried on after your passing. Name your donor advised fund as a beneficiary of your charitable remainder trust. Charitable remainder trusts (CRTs) are often used in estate planning, but they present a challenge: beneficiaries must be named when the trust is first established. If your wishes change later, it can be expensive to modify the CRT. One way to add more flexibility is to name your donor advised fund as the charitable beneficiary of the trust. In this scenario, the CRT must be distributed to one or more charitable organizations, but which charities will be supported can change even after the trust is established. Within the donor advised fund, the donor and his or her family can modify the recommended beneficiaries. An added benefit is that, if the donor wishes, his or her financial advisor can manage the assets in the donor advised fund. — These ideas are just a handful of the myriad of ways you can include generosity in your estate plans. We encourage you to discuss these and other options with your professional advisor. Through life insurance policies, charitable beneficiaries, and more, you can create a unique path that supports your estate planning goals, both financially and spiritually, all through your donor advised fund. This ultimately is the heart of The Signatry—we want to both inspire and to facilitate incredible generosity.

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Five Principles of Inheritance in the Bible

1 month ago By Bill High

What does the Bible say about leaving an inheritance? Although the Bible is clear that a good man leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren (Proverbs 13:22), the Bible doesn’t prescribe what that inheritance should be or how much the inheritance should be. It’s one of the most common questions I get asked: “How much should I leave my children?”  There are at least 5 principles of inheritance in the Bible that deserve attention.  Principle One: It’s Your Responsibility to Provide Order. Sometimes in a planning conversation, I will hear a parent say, “Well, what do I care? I’ll be gone. My kids can figure it out.” When King David was nearing his last days, his kingdom was not in order. His successor to the throne was not clearly in place, and in absence of that clarity, his son Adonijah seized the throne. His wife Bathsheba was forced to go to King David and make clear that Solomon was to be king. She stated boldly, “And now, my lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him” (I Kings 1:20). As a parent, it was David’s role to designate who would come after him. Similarly, it’s our responsibility to provide a clear plan for our children’s inheritance based on these biblical principles.  Principle Two: God Desires Generations. Our western culture has taught us to raise our children to independence—for our children to go on and live their own lives. That notion of independence has sometimes led to separation, and even encouraged a departure from values. But God desires for families and their values to continue for generations. Consider God’s command to Abraham as a guideline for inheritance in the Bible: “And God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations’” (Genesis 17:9). As we consider leaving an inheritance, it should be with the notion that we want our family to continue for generations in an ongoing covenant.  Principle Three: Pass on Values Through Your Family Story. One of the most powerful forms of biblical inheritance is the family story. Can your children and even grandchildren tell how you met, your struggles, your growth—the stories that make your family unique? In the Old Testament as part of the annual Passover celebration, God prescribed that the celebration should always start with the youngest child asking a question: What do you mean by this service? (Exodus 12:25-27). This question was the impetus to start the storytelling, the remembrance of what God had done for them.  Principle Four: Love Equally but Treat According to Responsibility. While we should endeavor to love our children equally, it doesn’t mean that we should give them an equal inheritance. We see biblical inheritance played out when Israel blessed his 12 sons in Genesis 49. The oldest son, Reuben, should have received a double inheritance, but he was unfaithful, so he didn’t get the share. Similarly, sons 2 & 3, Simeon and Levi, had fierce anger, so they were disqualified. It was the fourth son, Judah, who got the double portion. As a practical matter, the larger the estate and the larger the responsibility, the more likely that there may be a need for unequal inheritance.  Principle Five: Inheritance as Mission. While there’s little doubt that leaving an inheritance is a great gift, in Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously, David Green states that the first inheritance should be a set of values, virtues and work ethic. When it comes to financial wealth—particularly when larger amounts are involved—David points out that he would rather not have wealth if it meant losing one of his children or grandchildren for eternity. The more a family is aligned around a vision, a mission and a set of values, there’s a greater reason to keep family wealth together as biblical inheritances teaches.  There’s little doubt that I’ve only skimmed the surface on the biblical principles of inheritance. More of these thoughts and ideas can be found in David Green’s book noted above. However, I invite your thoughts and views. Email me at [email protected] 

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