How do I include the church in my will?
Most planned gifts are made as bequests through one’s will or estate plan. In fact, almost 80% of all planned gifts are bequests. You may not need to rewrite your will in order to include a bequest to your church or the diocese, as a codicil will suffice. Your attorney will advise you on the best way to handle a bequest.
To begin, determine the best kind of bequest for your purposes – whether it is an outright bequest, a residuary bequest, or a contingent bequest.
An outright bequest may be funded in a variety of ways. Frequently donors simply state a specific dollar amount to be given to your church. Or you want to give the church a specific piece of property such as a house, land, a valuable art piece. Or you may designate your church to receive a certain percent, such as 10% - a tithe of your net estate. (For more information about preparing A Christian Preamble to your will please click here.)
In a residuary bequest the church or diocese receives a percentage, or all that remains after all specific bequests and obligations have been paid.
The contingent bequest provides for the distribution of your assets to your church if none of your named beneficiaries survive you.
Wording for an Outright Bequest with a specific amount or percentage:
I give and bequeath to the Rector, Wardens, and Vestry of Your Episcopal Church, street address, state, ($ ___________) or (________ percent of the residue of my estate) to be used at their discretion to assist in the ministries of the Church (or organization.)”
Many churches designate that bequests be added to the permanent funds of the church or diocese. Wording for those bequests could read:
I give and bequeath to Your Episcopal Church, street address, state, ($ ___________) or (________ percent of the residue of my estate) to be added to the permanent endowment fund of the church.”
Wording for a Contingent Bequest:
In the event all of the beneficiaries of bequests and devises herein predecease me, or, in the case of institutions, cease to be organizations described in section 501( c )(3) of the Internal Revenue code, I ______(your name)______________, hereby give, devise, and bequeath to the rector, Wardens, and Vestry of Your Episcopal Church, street, state, the rest, residue, and remainder of my estate, to be used at their discretion to assist in the ministries of the Church.
What if I want to designate my bequest to support a certain program within my church?
Whether to direct (designate) how your bequest will be used is an important consideration. Your church may have permanent ongoing funds designated for specific purposes – such as Mission and Outreach, or Christian Education, or a building or organ fund. If you elect to designate a gift, it is important to consult with the Rector to be sure the gift can be used as you wish. Remember too, the purpose of planned giving, particularly gifts to endowment, is to support the church as wisely and simply as possible, not tying the hands of future generations in difficult ways.
For a Designated Bequest, add wording such as:
I give and bequeath to the Rector, Wardens, and Vestry of Your Episcopal Church, street address, state, ($ ___________) or (________ percent of the residue of my estate) to be used for the following designated purpose (s): _____________________________.