Tuesday, May 14, 2019

A Christian’s Estate Plan

By: Richard Carnes

As with most things, the world’s way of approaching estate planning is profoundly different from God’s way. Estate planning affects literally everything we consider ours. Because of that, it is the single most important act of stewardship we will ever undertake. 

Sometimes an event causes a person to confront their mortality, and they engage in introspection about their relationships and values. Possibly the person is stimulated to complete an estate plan they have long postponed and finally take the steps to ensure that their wishes are fulfilled. Maybe they start thinking about the ways they can use lifetime accumulations to make a difference for God’s Kingdom in the lives of the next generation.

As believers we understand that God is the owner of everything; in estate planning we are merely arranging to transfer stewardship responsibility, hopefully in a way that would please the One who has created and who owns all things. God said in Psalm 50:10-12, “… for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.”

In preparing our estate we are faced with a number of fundamental considerations that go to the heart of creating an estate plan that reflects God’s priorities. How shall I provide for my family members? What kind of eternal impact do I want to make through ministries that have been important to me and my loved ones over the course of our lives?

At the Kentucky Baptist Foundation, we emphasize that a complete estate plan is an affirmation of the meaning of your life – what you ultimately value, your affections, and the ways in which you want your life to have made a difference for God’s Kingdom.

Because the tools and techniques available to the believer are equally available to the non-Christian, there can inherently be nothing about the tools themselves that make an estate plan “Christian”. Rather, it’s the design of the estate plan. It is the prayer and careful thought put into it that will determine how well it reflects Biblical priorities.

Richard Carnes is president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation, P O Box 436389, Louisville, KY 40253; www.KYBaptistFoundation.org

The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Family Decisions

By: Richard Carnes

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:

· 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.

· 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.

· 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.

· 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 president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation, P O Box 436389, Louisville, KY 40253; KYBaptistFoundation.org

The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Do I Need A Will?

By: Richard Carnes

Is it truly necessary for us to have Wills? This is a common question we receive at the Foundation.

The answer is: Yes, you need a Will!

Yes, there are multiple ways to pass property to a surviving spouse, such as joint tenancy with right of survivorship, and beneficiary designations. Nevertheless, everyone should have a Will for the following six reasons:


  • To be a good steward – a good estate plan reduces death taxes and probate expenses, leaving more for you to pass to your family and charitable causes at your death.
  •  To avoid the “Will” the state has written for you – Kentucky’s “Intestate Succession Statute” – the state’s plan of asset distribution may not meet your family’s needs or accomplish your estate planning objectives. 
  • To retain input - Making a Will allows you to determine who will get your assets and how the recipients will receive those assets at your death.
  • Making a Will allows you to designate whom you want to be appointed as guardian for your children if both parents die before your children reach age 18.
  • Making a Will assures smooth administration (probate) of your estate at your death.
  • Making a Will allows you to name an executor who will handle the tasks of determining what you own at death, paying your final debts and expenses, managing the assets in your estate, preparing all required tax returns and distributing your assets as your Will directs. 

The Kentucky Baptist Foundation’s “Common Mistakes Everyone Makes In Estate Planning”seminar can provide more answers about why you need a Will. Contact Richard Carnes at richard.carnes@kybaptist.orgto schedule this one-hour, free seminar at your church.

Also, if you have questions about Christian estate planning strategies or want to request a private estate stewardship consultation, please contact the Kentucky Baptist Foundation’s trust counsel, Austin Wilkerson at austin.wilkerson@kybaptist.orgor call the Foundation’s toll-free number (866) 489-3533.

Richard Carnes is president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation, P O Box 436389, Louisville, KY 40253; toll-free (866) 489-3533; KYBaptistFoundation.org

The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.