Create a Will
“He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
One of the best ways to steward the resources entrusted to you is to have an up-to-date Will that reflects your personal values, provides for your loved ones, and blesses the charities you care about. Below we’ve included some practical resources to help you begin your journey.
Get Help in Person
Save time and money by filling out our Wills Guide on your own before you see an attorney or estate planner.
Get Help Online
Most people can fill out an Online Will in less than an hour. Click below for links to some of the most popular Online Will sites.
• How Do I Find a Lawyer?
If you decide to use a lawyer to create or update your Will – or review your Online Will – you’ll want to find an attorney who shares your values and is knowledgeable in estate planning.
There are three sources you can check for a referral to a trusted estate planning attorney:
1. Christian Legal Society. You can go online for a referral from the Christian Legal Society, network of attorneys committed to acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with their God (Micah 6:8).
2. Contact Us. You can contact our office for a referral.
3. Your Pastor. Pastors are connected to a wide network of people which may include an estate planning attorney. Even if your pastor doesn’t already know an attorney, he or she can likely ask others for a trusted referral to send your way.
• Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Will?
No. There is no legal requirement that a Will be drawn up by a lawyer. Most people can use quality, fill-in-the-blank legal documents to take care of basic concerns such as leaving their property to loved ones and naming a guardian for young children. However, there are a number of situations where it would be highly recommended to work with a lawyer instead of creating an Online Will:
• If you have significant assets.
• If you have a special needs, disabled, or dependent adult child.
• If you’ve been divorced or re-married.
• If you think one of your heirs might contest your Will.
• If you own a small business.
• If you are concerned about guardianship issues for minor children.
• If you’re raising grandchildren or stepchildren.
• If you or your spouse are citizens of another country.
• If you have questions about your Will or the Online form doesn’t address your situation.
• How do Online Wills Work?
Most Online Will sites guide you through a simple 3-step process:
1. Answer Questions. You’ll be guided through a series of fill-in-the-blank questions about your wishes regarding your family, your property, who you want to be in charge of making sure your wishes are taken care of. Most people can usually complete it within about 30 minutes.
2. Review Answers. You’ll have an opportunity to review your own answers for completeness and accuracy. Some sites also provide online tools and “ask a lawyer” features to give you a more in depth review.
3. Finalize documents. The last step is to receive your documents online or in the mail. The Online Will site will also provide instructions for getting signatures to finalize your documents, as well as storage recommendations.
• 4 Advantages of Online Wills
Is an Online Will right for you? Below are four reasons people get an Online Will:
1. Affordable. When it comes to getting a Will, cost is a big concern for many people. A lawyer may charge you $750 for a basic Will (and a lot more if your estate is complicated). But most people can get an Online Will for less than $200.
2. Easy. Online Will sites provide simple questionnaires that the average person can answer in about 30 minutes or less. With an attorney, you may have to schedule a couple of face-to face appointments to review your information and to finalize your documents.
3. Quality. Do-it-yourself online legal documents have been accepted by court and government agencies in all 50 states. Some of the most popular Online Will sites were started by attorneys – and offer high-quality, legally valid, state-specific Wills.
4. Private. Some people are uncomfortable with the idea of discussing their financial and family information with a complete stranger. Although attorneys are required to keep your discussions confidential, many prefer the anonymity of fill-in-the-blank online forms.
• Including Charity in Your Will
Here are the most common ways to significantly increase your ministry impact through your Will:
• Add “Charity” to your family. Some families treat charitable organizations like an additional child. For example, if a family has three children, they might add a fourth child named “Charity” and divide the assets in their Will into four equal parts. Each of their children would receive 25%, and the remaining 25% would be divided among their favorite charitable organizations.
• Percentage. Other families commit a percentage of their estate to the charitable organizations they love, dividing the remainder among their heirs.
• Cap. Others prayerfully decide to “cap” their children’s inheritance, leaving the rest of their assets to ministry. This approach is used when the parents want to provide a modest gift to bless their children and eliminate concerns of creating dependence or giving too much too soon.
• Update an existing Will. An attorney can add, delete, or change an item in your Will with an additional statement called a “codicil.” Here’s an example: “I give, devise, and bequeath twenty- five percent (25%) of my residuary estate to [charity name] whose address is [city, state, zip code]. Like a Will, a codicil must be dated, signed, and witnessed.
• Sample Bequest Language
Leaving a gift in your Will to a ministry or charity that you love is a great expression of your personal values, and it may be simpler than you think. If you would like to do this, consider including this language in your Estate Plans:
If you want to support the overall mission of the charitable organizations dear to your heart, please use the following language: “I give _______ (% or dollar amount) of my estate to (Charity Name of City/State) for its general use.”
If you want to support a specific program fund of the charitable organizations dear to your heart, use the following language: “I give ____ (% or dollar) of my estate to (Charity Name of City/State) for the (Name of the Project or Fund).”
• Legal Name & Tax ID Number
Legal Name: Paradise Bound Ministries
Federal Tax ID Number: 38-336941
Paradise Bound Ministries does not, and will not engage in the practice of law. Therefore, it is important that you seek an attorney directly or through one of the online services listed for preparation of legal work. Paradise Bound Ministries cannot review your estate plan for legal accuracy; you must rely upon the legal advice received from your attorney or online legal service.
3 Ways to Avoid Family Heartache
Some families make surprising discoveries after a loved one dies. As one blogger recalls, “My mom’s step-grandpa told everyone he was an electrician that was often called to do repair jobs out of town. After he died, the family received a letter from the president of the United States, revealing he was actually a demolitions expert and worked in some sort of special ops bomb squad for the military. Even his wife had no idea.”
But not every revelation is such an admirable one. Some families discover their loved one was hiding an addiction or debt. Many children are stunned to discover they were omitted from their parents’ will – with no chance for an explanation. Not only is this bewildering and hurtful, it’s ultimately the last message a parent sends to their child. These heartaches can be avoided. Here’s where to start:
- Construct a plan. Did you know 60 percent of Americans do not have an estate plan? Creating a will is actually a simple process but the impact is monumental. An up-to-date will can ensure your loved ones are provided for without additional expense and frustration.
- Communicate your heart. Once you’ve created an estate plan, it’s important to explain the decisions you’ve made. Some families experience complicated relationships or situations where receiving an inheritance could actually be detrimental. It’s better to be honest than to leave a lifetime of questions. It can also be a wonderful time to speak from your heart. Share about your personal values, causes or organizations you’ve cared about or chosen to include in your will.
- Collect information. Many people create a “love drawer” or “love file” to gather important information their loved ones will need in the future. This could include legal documents, financial account information, insurance policies, passwords, medical wishes, or personal letters sharing how much they’ve meant to you.
Romans 12:18 is a great reminder of how we should live with others –
and the lengths we should explore to keep peace even after we pass.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
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