Wills and Trusts
Consider this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. -2 Corinthians 9:6
The most basic estate planning tools are wills and trusts. “Bequests” are established by wills and trusts.
Basics about Bequests
When planning an estate, think about the institutions that have played a role in your life. This might be your parish, parish school, diocesan high school, or another ministry of the diocese.
You helped them during your life with time, guidance, and financial assistance. You endorse their mission and believe that they will continue to make a difference for good in the world far into the future.
To make a bequest, see the link on “Gift Designations.” You will most likely engage an estate planning attorney to help you make a bequest. This professional can guide you to make sure all legal necessities are followed.
Bequests are not payable until death, so it does not affect your assets or cash flow during your life. Charitable bequests are private. Your will is not filed or made public until your death.
Trusts are never made public unless you instruct otherwise. A will or trust is revocable; you can change the provisions of your will or trust at any time until death. Since your parish, parish school, or another ministry will likely not receive your bequest until far into the future, its terms should be as general as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What’s the difference between a will and a trust?
A will is your instruction manual to your survivors and to the probate court about how you want your property distributed. It is a revocable, private document that only takes effect after your death.
A revocable trust — sometimes called a living trust — is a legal entity that is always private and holds assets during your lifetime. After death, the trust transfers your assets — or benefit from them — to family and charity. Unlike a will, a trust must take title to assets before it can pass them to your survivors.
Your advisers can guide you in choosing which vehicle works better for you.
Q: What if I already have written my will or trust?
You can amend a will or trust to make a gift to your favorite charity. Your attorney can prepare the simple document, called a codicil or amendment that adds a new charitable bequest while reaffirming the other terms of your will or trust.