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Praise God – My House In Order
By Jeffrey K. Wilson

There’s an incredibly easy way to provide for your family and God’s work.
Talk about wills, trusts, planned giving and similar subjects, and many people will tune out the speaker instantly.  And that’s understandable, since we tend to connect those subjects with our demise.  While it’s true those things take death into account, there’s a much more positive and enjoyable way to see it.  Wills and trusts and the like are an incredible (and remarkably easy) way to both provide for your family and contribute to God’s work.  And making a will won’t make you die sooner.  In fact, thinking ahead is always more likely to extend your life than it is to shorten it.  Here are three stories that illustrate how several people found joy – yes joy – in making their wills and trusts.
When Susan Jane decided to prepare an estate plan, several factors were important to her.  Her first priority was to provide for her family.  Her second priority was Christian Education.
     Jane is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Nutrition, School of Health, a local state university.  “All my children have attended Adventist schools, some from kindergarten through graduate degree level.  I’ve always admired people with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures gained through Christian education,” she says.  “That’s why I wanted to see others receive what I missed.”
     As a young widow, Susan married Jonathan Jane.  Their love and interest in young people went far beyond their own family.  They “adopted” and mentored so many young people that they jokingly called themselves the fastest growing family in the area.  Since the Janes know no boundaries to their extended family, they wanted to be generous to Adventist Christian education.
     “That’s why I provided resources after my passing for scholarships at Pine Forge Academy, Oakwood College (now Oakwood University), and Andrews University,” says Jane.  “I just want to make sure the next generation of young people has the resources necessary to attend these wonderful schools.”

If I weren’t a single parent, I wouldn’t feel so strongly about this,” says Naomi Su, a physician and single parent of three sons.  ‘I want to make the critical choice about the guardianship of my children and the charitable and family disposition of my assets while my mind is clear and not lay the burden on my loved ones to try to presume what I might want.”
     But not long ago, Dr. Su admits, “I was so busy I didn’t think about estate planning until I began reading a Planned and Trust Services newsletter.  That got me thinking.”
     She contacted an Adventist Planned Giving and Trust Services officer to help update her will and trust.  Today, in addition to provisions for her family, there is an endowment fund to perpetuate the Center for College Faith.
     One might wonder why she isn’t giving all of her estate to her children.  Dr. Su tells about a Week of Prayer presentation she gave for a group of students during which she felt God working through her.
     “I wonder what a middle-aged, divorced woman could do for young busy students involved in critical decisions regarding careers, life companions, lifestyles, and how to make God real in their lives.
     “Somehow we connected, this student of the early seventies with these students of the nineties.  We realized that God was not finished with any of us.  I made so many friends for life from among students, faculty and staff.”
     She says that seeing her own two teenagers struggle with their faith made her realize how much more we need to know about the factors that lead young people into an eternal relationship with Jesus.
     An estate plan was one way Dr. Su chose to continue helping young people.  She says, “I am so pleased to have my personal house in order.”

About 10 years before retirement Lawrence and Mable Edwards began thinking seriously about saving for future security.  Advisors suggested that they save the maximum during this short period with an individual retirement account (IRA), which they did.  And they managed to make up for the years when their money was going to their children’s Christian education.
     Before they know it, they were five years into retirement and looking at mandatory withdrawals from their IRA coming in about a year.  They realized they had enough to live on from their social security and denominational retirement income, so what were they to do with the IRA income?
     This led them to the office of their financial advisor, who had some Christian advice.  ‘You’ll experience the greatest joy and pay the fewest taxes by giving money away,” he said.  However, as they began to explore the possibilities, they soon found that should something happen to them, their children could inherit only a fraction of their IRA because of all the taxes that would immediately come due.
     Legal counsel suggested a “give-twice strategy” – a way to give to both their children and to the Lord’s work and avoid a substantial amount of taxes.
     “We worked for the Lord for so many years,” says Mabel.  ‘I stayed home when the children were small and we had so very little, but we did as much as we could, and the Lord has richly blessed us.
     “We really want to help young people in our local church, and in college.  We worked our way through school, and now we want to help other youth who have to work.  God has made it possible through the living trust and irrevocable insurance trust for us to give a lot more now, and even more later than we ever imagined.  We simply can’t praise Him enough.”

If you would like any assistance with your estate planning needs, please contact the Planned Giving & Trust Services Department of your conference.  You may find contact information for The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada and The USA by clicking on “Contact Us” above.