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Is Your Will, Your Will?

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Studies over the last several years find that the majority of Americans, somewhere around 60%, do not have wills. However, 100% of all Americans have estate planning!  That is, if you do not have a will or trust, the state will divide up and distribute your possessions for you. The state, of course, will have a claim in it.

One of the inevitable events in our life will be our death (unless the Lord comes during our lifetime), yet one of the most difficult subjects to bring up with family, friends and donors is death and estate planning. It seems to us callous and insensitive. However, this is far from the truth. The Church fathers remind us to keep death before us daily. It makes sense that if most of us have managed our finances during our lifetime, why would we want someone else to manage them after we die?  Yet, the majority of us seem OK with that.

I have always believed that what happens after we die (i.e. our funeral, our estate distribution, etc) should reflect how we have lived or better.  If we have tithed during our life, why shouldn’t we tithe after we die?  Why do so many assume that everything should go to our children?  Someone said, “Love your children enough not to give them everything.” Not infrequently, I have seen children arguing over the will. I am saddened when I think of these parents looking down from heaven and seeing their children suing each other and not speaking to each other over what they have left behind!

There is a hard hitting scenario that challenges our attitudes about where our wealth should go. I can’t recall where I first heard it, but it goes something like this… If we really believe that God has given us everything, that we truly possess nothing, then we correctly view ourselves as “stewards” of what has been given us. I like the word “managers” better because it is a word we relate to more in our culture. If God is the owner and we are the managers, then what store manager would have the right to give the store’s possessions to his children after he dies? The store belongs to the owner, not the manager. The owner has given the manager a salary to run his store, to build it up, yet in the end; the store belongs to the owner.  This is an incredible way to start thinking about what we have. It really belongs to God. It really should be His to distribute…according to His will.

If our life is a preparation for our death, then why are we so reluctant to take care of what God has given us and where it will go?  Did not the Lord do this on the Cross with His mother? We need to be prepared and make sure we are good stewards both in this life and after. It is our last act of management. May our will, reflect His will…

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