8 Ways to Make an Estate Gift to Your Church


Patrons wishing to make a gift to their church are running into problems when they try to incorporate wishes into an estate plan.  Luckily, there are some strong alternatives.


Legal Forms to Help Gift to a Church

Generally, an estate plan can utilize eight (8) different ways to make a gift to your Church.  Unfortunately, each method or form can bring with it a different set of problems.

8.  Prayer,
7.  Your time,
6.  Cash gift before death,
5.  Transfer on death deed,
4.  Beneficiary forms,
3.  Irrevocable trust,
2.  Revocable trust, and
1. Will

Estate Gifts versus Tithe or Tithing

I hope this doesn’t happen to your family, but entering an ICU or long term nursing care facility can really drain one’s assets.  In my experience, identifying a specific cash donation within a will or trust is a poor plan.  For one, nobody really knows how much we will have when we die.

Instead of adding an exclusive cash gift, I like the idea of designating a strict percentage.  For example, I bequest five percent (5%)….to ___________.  For some, the idea percentage is a set percentage called tithing.

Again, if we are lucky to die with assets, then contributing a specific percentage is easier to manage and is less likely to make life difficult for a Personal Representative.


Best and Worst Way to Gift to a Church

There isn’t a best way to make a gift to a church.  If folks are able, then great.  If they cannot, then that is okay too.

That said, there are a few methods of gift giving that I discourage.

The first method I discourage folks from making is the process of gifting their home.  Quite frankly, very few churches want to manage real estate.

Personally, I like the idea of granting a Trustee an opportunity to sell a residence on behalf of a person and using the proceeds as desired.  In other words, making it easy on a Church to accept a cash gift versus a home.

The second method I discharge folks from making is the process of making a church or a pastor an executor.  Again, most folks would agree that a church is by our side for spiritual guidance versus the estate transfer process.

Thus, if gifting to a church is what a person desires, make the process easier by using a trust or will.

If you need help with this process, please contact me.