The Importance of Writing a Will

September 19, 2008

Planned Giving, The Pilot

By Richard Ely

One of the simplest ways to make a gift to your parish and an important opportunity to be a good Catholic steward is through your Will or your Living Trust.

It is important for everyone, regardless of the size of his or her estate, to have a Will. Through your Will, you have the power to determine how your estate (everything you have accumulated over your lifetime) will be distributed. If a person dies intestate (without a will) the laws of Massachusetts will determine who gets the estate’s assets without consideration of the donor’s wishes, desires or plans.

Through a Will, you can properly provide for your family and others you love. You can also help to perpetuate the work of your parish and other charitable organizations in which you strongly believe. A bequest to your parish is a living legacy that you can make to carry on your commitment to your Catholic faith.

Because of the complexity of estate planning, it is important that you have an attorney structure your estate and write your Will so as to best carry out your wishes.

Let me share a few thoughts to keep in mind when writing a Will. It’s important to start now as we never know when we’ll be called home. A Will is a chance to make peace with God – accepting his love and responding to it. It’s also a chance to reconcile ourselves with others and say goodbye.

In terms of planning for distribution of your estate, it’s important to determine for what and for whom we are planning. With whom should we share? Your answer will be based on your prayer and reflection, on principles of justice and love, and on who you love and who loves you. Are there special people and organizations that have made a difference in your life?

With a lot of prayerful reflection, many of us have the opportunity to make a transformational gift for both you and a cause that you hold dear. These transformational gifts can be an action that sums up your life for generations to come. They can be acts of love that also allow you to “pay back”, make a difference, leave a legacy and help others.

For gifts that will take effect after your lifetime, your parish or favorite church ministry should be included in the following way:

“I bequeath <SUM OF MONEY OR PERCENTAGE OF ESTATE OR SPECIFIC PROPERTY>to the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston, a Corporation Sole, to be used for the benefit of (name and address of the parish, or name of Archdiocesan ministry and the Archdiocese of Boston’s address below).”

Gifts earmarked for your general purposes permit a parish or ministry to use the funds where they are most needed. If you have a more specific purpose in mind, please contact your pastor or Richard Ely, Director of Gift Planning and Stewardship, The Catholic Foundation of the Archdiocese of Boston, 66 Brooks Drive, Braintree, MA 02184, 617-779-3702 (telephone) or (email).

This article originally appeared in a special “Stewardship” section of The Pilot on September 19, 2008 

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