Loving Enough to Prepare for the Future

Rafe Refior July 17, 2016 Luke 14:28-31

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I. The Balance between Our Duty to Plan and Prepare While Trusting and Following the Lord

A. We have responsibilities to diligently work and prepare. The peril of failure to do so is demonstrated with the examples of farmers, athletes and the military.

Luke 14:28-31 - …count the cost before you build a tower…the king considers the ability of his army before making war…

Men of the Bible who engaged in strategic thinking and planning for the future, include Joseph, Noah, Moses, Nehemiah, and, of course, Jesus Christ.

B. Our plans never trump God’s plans, as He in His goodness and rightness brings to pass His will

Proverbs 16:9 - The heart of a man plans his way; but the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 4:25 - Let your eyes look straight, and your eyelids look before you.

II. The Starting Point: God Owns Everything and Everyone

Psalm 24:1 - The earth is the LORD’s, and all it contains; the world, and those who dwell therein.

A. You can’t take it with you when you die

Ecclesiastes 5:15 - Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs.  He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. (See also 1 Timothy 6:7 and Job 1:21)

B. We are stewards of what God owns

1 Corinthians 4:2 - Now it is required of stewards that they must be found faithful.

III. When We Speak of the Future We include this Life and the Eternity after Death

A. The single most important preparation for the future is to become a member of God’s family by trusting and believing in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and thereby receiving His guarantee of eternal life with Him…the gospel

B. The Christian plans for the future by growing in Christ and becoming more like Him.  As that occurs, he/she is creating a legacy for his/her family and others that will work toward preparing to carry on the service and glorifying of God long after he/she has departed for Heaven.

IV. Loving Enough to Prepare for the Future with the Material and Financial Resources God Provides and Entrusts Us with

A. Wills or “testaments” are not new.  They existed even in Bible times.  What we call a “Nuncupative Will” is an oral Will declared before witnesses.  Examples are Abraham (Genesis 25:5-6), Jacob (Genesis 48 and 49), David (1 Kings 2:1-9) and Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 21:3).  Wills are specifically discussed in the New Testament in Galatians 3:15 and Hebrews 9:16-17).

B. We are aware of how to prepare for possible emergencies like fire, power outage, hurricanes, tornados, and wounds, and many make those preparations for such a possible future event.  But when it comes to preparing for the definite and certain future event of DEATH, more than half of American adults have failed to prepare by making a Will or a Trust.

C. Having no Will or Trust is reckless and turns out to be unloving to those under your roof, because you are therefore taking the gigantic gamble of allowing the State government to make your will for you, including:

1. No distribution to the Lord’s work or any other charity.

2. When your children are mature enough to receive the distribution with no restrictions or conditions.

3. Who will have guardianship over your minor children.

4. Your spouse will only receive one-half and your children the rest.

5. Every time the legislators meet there is the chance they will change your Will.

D. Joint ownership is a reckless substitute.  It opens your assets to the joint owner’s civil judgments, debts and forfeitures.

E. General Durable Powers of Attorney – authorizes another to legally sign documents for you and to deal with your property (“steps into your shoes”)

F. Health Care Directives –

1. Health care POA – appoints an agent to make health and treatment decisions when you are unable to do so and grants HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) consent for receiving medical information

2. Living Will – Your decisions about life support treatments if you are near death.

3. Avoid adult guardianship with DPOA and HCPOA

V. The Steps to Take and the Process to Get Your Will or Trust

A. Gathering all the necessary information and prayerfully considering your decisions about:

1. Your objectives.

2. Who gets what, and when, under what circumstances or restrictions.

3. If someone predeceases, then who is the contingent beneficiary.

4. At what ages(s) should your children receive distribution.

5. A need for a delayed distribution or a trustee.

6. If a trust, who is trustee and successor trustee.

7. Who is personal representative (pour-over will even if trust).

8. Provide for a memorandum to list specific items of personal property.

9. Any specific bequests/gifts.

10. Who will be guardians of your children.

11. Special circumstances that need to be addressed.

12. Who is Power of Attorney and alternative POA.

13. Who is health care agent and successors.

14. Do you want a Living Will and if so, which kind.

15. If a trust, gather all documentation for transfers (See form cited below).

16. What part of your estate, if any, will you give to your church, and/or Christian ministries and/or other charities.

http://refiorlaw.com/pdf/Trust_Info.pdf
http://refiorlaw.com/pdf/Will_Info.pdf

VI. Making Changes or Amendments to Your Will or Trust

VII. Body and Funeral Directive – Can be suggestive or mandatory.

http://refiorlaw.com/pdf/Directives.pdf

VIII. How Much Does It Cost and How Long Does It Take?

IX. What about “do-it-yourself” Wills, Trusts and other Documents?

X. What’s next?  It’s Your Choice (James 4:17)

 

Manuscript

Steve:  It's my privileged to tell you this morning that our speaker today is going to be Mr. Paul Refior. Paul became a Christian during his last semester of law school at the University of Iowa. I apologize for using poor language here in the church house, but that's where it was. I have to be honest. His wife [Pam 00:00:20] became a follower of Christ soon afterwards. Paul served in the navy, and was stationed in Naples, Italy, and also at the Panama Canal. After filling in for missionaries in Japan, some folks who had gone on furlough, and the Refiors were willing to go and serve on their behalf, they moved to Warsaw, Indiana.

Paul established his law office there, but also began attending classes at Grace Seminary. More than ten years ago now, after having visited his daughter [Nikki Lambeth 00:00:53] on numerous occasions here in Lafayette, and then attending Faith Church with [Lambeths 00:01:00] when they were here, they decided to start a law office here in Lafayette so they could become members of Faith Church. I'm so glad that God worked in their hearts and lives to do that. Paul serves as a faithful deacon, but he also provides an incredible amount of legal counsel to all of our ministries.

You might say, "Why would we ever need that?" We have a counseling center would be one answer. Also because we just want to do everything properly. We're constantly reaching out. Now that we have our community development corporation, seriously there's never a week when we're not asking for Paul's help, oftentimes daily, and sometimes multiple times in a day, and have never received a bill. Everybody has their place and their role in this church. I'm so glad that God has brought Paul and his wife Pam to our church. They've been married forty-six years, have two children and eight grandchildren. We've asked Paul to teach us today on the matter of being loving enough to prepare for your future. Would you join me in welcoming Mr. Paul Refior?

 

Paul:    Thanks. You might be wondering why is a lawyer standing up before you on a Sunday morning. There's some parts of scripture that sort of hurt. Jesus said to these lawyers, "Woe to you lawyers as well, for you weigh men down with burdens hard to bare, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers." That's [inaudible 00:02:42]. I was looking around. Who appreciates lawyers?

I actually went on the internet. You can find out everything. Here's what the survey said. They said that politicians were the least respected. It used to be that lawyers were right there, but I take great comfort. We've been bumped up or down, whichever it is. We've been bumped. TSA is in there. I appreciate that. Looking around, I wanted to find a place. This is really true. The survey that they took of the most respected professions in Russia was lawyers.

I'm looking to find somebody so that we can apologize. We had our Vacation Bible School as many of you know last month here at Faith. Pam was working with the first grade. I was at the office in Warsaw, but I came down Friday. I was working with her. I wasn't having a really good day. As soon as we were done, I said, "I really need to go out and sit down." Our daughter [Laura 00:04:07] had her five kids up here to join us, as she does every year. She had come right before VBS. We had her van that week, because we're hauling the kids. She was going to just wait in her van until after it was over.

When it's over, I didn't have keys to Pam's car, and she wasn't immediately with me. I knew Laura had been in her van. I went out to her van and got in just to relax. I took my leg off to really relax. Then I was surprised that precious Pam came. She joined me. She said that they said that they had plenty of help in cleaning up and so forth. We were just going to wait for [Laura 00:04:53] to bring the kids.

We're sitting there, and Pam looks down on the floor and there was a bag of pretzels that had been knocked off and was spilled all over the floor. Pam in her purse, she had one of these wrapped up, she rolled up Wal-Mart bags. She pulled it out, and she picked it up. She was picking up all the pretzels. Got it nice and clean, and said, "You know, I just don't remember some of this other stuff being in here." She picks up a bag full of trash. As you can see, that were the arrow is, that's the bag full of pretzels and trash. Then here comes our daughter Laura. Okay, we're ready to go. She goes like this. She says, "That's not my car."

I'm looking for somebody to ... We took your pretzels. If these are your, come down right now. I'll give them to you. By the way, since I'm speaking three times today and two times next week at Faith West, I bought five bags, because I didn't know what kind of response I was going to get.

Actually, there is a verse in the Bible for Lawyers that I appreciate. Notice this. This is the great Apostle Paul saying this. "Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer." Now of course, if you read on, it's subject to interpretation, "On their way." Now to get serious. When we think of future things, some people can just say, "Well of course, God can take care of everything. We'll just trust him, right?"

The Bible gives us clear examples of not only people in the Bible being planners and being involved in strategy, but there's clear instructions. We really are disobeying the Lord if we are not planning for the future, because we're being presumptuous on God. Wise people plan ahead. In Luke it says, "For which of you intending to build a tower does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it, lest after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it will mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king going to make war against another king does not sit down first, and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?"

The message is clear. We think ahead. Why? It is very important what is going to be ahead and is going to make a difference what we do now. You can think very easily of these three examples, of why it would make a difference if we plan. Think of the farmer who decided, "Well, I've got this corn, and I think I'll just sort of plant it when I feel the urge," or, "I don't really think that I want to concentrate on that work today. There's other things that maybe will be important." What a disaster that would be. The athlete, knowing that the contest is ahead, does not have a training schedule, does not work to learn what is necessary to have better nutrition, to increase muscle strength and coordination and so forth.

How about a classic example that seems to be in the news every day? If one would go to war, and this was the example out of Luke too, if one were to go to war without important strategic planning. I'm not going to take the time to go through these, but if we had time, we could talk about the planning and the strategic thinking of Joseph and Noah and Moses and Nehemiah. Of course, Jesus' whole existence in life was about fulfilling the eternal plan of God, to make the way so that man could be redeemed, and man could come into fellowship again with God.

We're talking about a balance here. On the one side, we are to plan and prepare for the future. We run the race to win. We reach for those goals. By the way, you folks at Faith know that we're all about planning, right? Strategic plans and all that we do very deliberately. All the while, we honor the Lord, and we bow low before the Lord, submitting to his will. We do walk by faith, and we do understand that the ultimately is in control. His plan will come to pass.

Proverbs 16:9, "The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." Isn't it true that so much about our life, so much about our Christian life, has to do with balance? Here's a verse that talks about the near and the far that sort of adds a little perspective. "Let your eyes look straight and your eyelids look before you." Even a secularist can talk about planning in a way that makes sense. "If you fail to plan, you're planning to fail," Benjamin Franklin.

Here's the starting point. God owns everything and everyone. In Psalms 24:1, "The Earth is the Lord's and all it contains. The world and those who dwell therein." Did you catch that it talks about all it contains? I think it's easier for us to think of that. There's stuff there. God is the owner. How about those who dwell therein? God owns all people. God owns me. God owns you. That's pretty important because that is why God is in the position to determine where we will have our eternal destiny when we die. God owns us. He decides who and where. We're going to come back to that.

You all know, of course, you can't take it with you. In Ecclesiastes, "Naked a man comes from his mother's womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in hand." Then Paul said, "For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it." That becomes true every time someone passes. We make our plans. We have our stuff. When we die, all of that stops. That why, particularly for Christians, we understand that since God owns everything ... If God owns everything, by the way, then how much do we own?

 

Group: [inaudible 00:12:30].

 

Paul:    Right. We have stuff. How can that be if we don't own anything? My name's on that deed. It's because we are stewards. In 1 Corinthians 4:2, God has clear instruction for stewards where it says, "Now it is required of stewards," and that word, by the way, is a person who has been given a trust, "That they must be found faithful." One of the things that we want to get out of this morning's message is our we stewarding what we have? Are we stewarding our lives? Are we stewarding our time? Are we stewarding our possessions? Are we stewarding even our plans? Stewarding not for ourselves, but for God.

Time won't allow us to go into the Parable of the Talents, but you'll remember that this rich man was going to go off in a way, and he had these three stewards. He gave one ten, one five, and another one one. The ten and the five, they invested it and used it and doubled what they were given. The other one, he just put it underground, and then when the owner came back, the two were commended as being faithful. "He who is faithful in little, uh, will be able to be faithful in much." The one who didn't, he didn't plan for anything. He didn't do anything. He actually was not only condemned, but punished.

Now, real specifically as you know our theme this year is loving our world. This summer we're doing a series on loving our world including those under our roof. Today we're talking about loving enough to plan for the future. As stewards, we have this duty to provide for our family. 1 Timothy 5:8, "But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than a believer." Frankly, guys, there's no room for a lazy man. There is no room for a slothful Christian.

Moving on, we're going to talk about the future. When we think of the future, we are including this life until we die, but also eternity ahead. When I was growing up, my dad was a college professor, and I wasn't a Christian until law school as Pastor Viars said. When my unsaved, unbelieving father told me that anyone who believes the Bible has thrown away their brain, for some reason, I didn't listen to anything else he said, but I took that. "Okay. That settles that, and uh, on my way."

That was just putting me in a position that I went for all those years following that, never, never even considering in my reckless life, never even considered what might be in the future. In fact, any young people, you really don't even think about what might happen, that you might die because there's a sense of invincibility. The number one plan that anyone can make is to make sure that your relationship is intact, to make sure that you have received Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

When I was in my last semester of law school, I started reading a Bible that someone had gave me at home. I had the, I think, great advantage that I had no planned program bias. I wasn't trying to pack what I had read in the Bible into any system or theology. I started reading it. Just what does it say? That's all I was doing. I became interested. "Okay, someone gave me this Bible. They believe it. That's strange. Uh, what does it say?"

During study breaks in the middle of the night, I started reading it. I was able to in a very impartial way, but also in a deliberate way, because I'm studying that to say, "What does it say?" Really to my surprise, it's saying that Heaven really, really exists, and Hell, yes Hell, really, really exists. There's something to do with faith in Jesus Christ. Those who have it go to Heaven and those who don't go to Hell.

Well, that seemed drastic. Obviously that couldn't be true, because what about the people in the middle, [inaudible 00:17:51] have never heard, and all those things that go through your mind. Yet it was nagging on me. The more I studied, the more I kept asking myself, "Well, what if it's true? What if it's true that a person has to put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ to go to Heaven? What if it's true that Heaven exists? What if it's true that Hell exists, and what if it somebody doesn't?" Just to move along, a little over forty years ago, I was opening the Word by myself all alone, and I surprised myself by hearing out loud me talking. What is faith? How do you do faith?

I was really surprised by it. Then I just opened my heart. All I had done in studying carefully, I said, "I believe in Jesus Christ." By that I meant all that I had been learning from the Bible, all of that is true, and because of that coming to Christ, and I immediately knew I had transacted business with God I've had the, I would call the luxury of two things: never doubting my salvation, because how could this reckless guy on his own way to being rich and famous and powerful, how could that person been the [need 00:19:26] of Jesus? Yet, the Lord brought me to himself. The other advantage that I just love is that I knew then, and I know now, that the Bible is the absolute word of God. It is absolutely true. There are no mistakes. It is supernatural. We can learn more and more and more and more.

Be very sure, because, let me be as blunt as I can be. Since I'm not a pastor, let me just lay it out here. If you are not sure that you have made a decision to receive Jesus Christ, then you stand in judgement, condemned already. Unless, between now and when you go to your death, and you don't know when that's going to be, just like I don't know when I'm going to die, you will go into a crisis eternity. There's a warning, but there's also an invitation. You could actually change that today, because it's a matter of personal choice, making a decision.

Another area of future planning, and now I'm talking to believers here. Future planning has to do with our legacy, where brick by brick, we are building something that is actually going to exist here after we go to Heaven. That is our legacy. We have our testimony now, but we also are building our legacy brick by brick. In 1 Timothy 4:12, it says, "In speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of a believer." There you are showing yourself. Think about this. If you are living for the Lord, those who are in your family, those who are coworkers, those who are neighbors all around you, they are seeing and watching as you are showing yourself an example of a believer.

Then as you build that legacy, you go onto Heaven, which is wonderful, but it is also wonderful that your legacy has the potential of having the effect for generations in the future. By the way, there's a warning here. If we are not mindful of showing ourselves an example of a believer, if we are not doing that, our legacy could not be what you would want it to be. In fact, it could be something that people would want to forget.

I challenge you in that area, but how about preparing with our financial and material resources? I want to just give you an overview of things that are really important. The first part is for you to understand how serious it is if you don't do planning. If we had time, there are these types of things that we'd talk about, budgeting, savings plan, insurance, retirement planning, business [exception 00:22:49] planning, disability insurance, life insurance, and so forth. We're not going to talk about those, but those are important planning matters too. If God said to you, "Get your house in order. Tomorrow you're going to die," are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready as far as planning for your family?

In the time that's remaining, I'm going to just touch base on some things that you need to know about biblical estate planning. Again, if we had time, we could have an interesting chat, because it's very interesting to me, and some of it might be interesting to you about people in the Bible who had planning. A nuncupative will or testament is an oral one that is later written down. We have examples of that with Abraham and Jacob and David, Jehoshaphat. Sort of interesting, if you'll note that Hebrews citation, there is a statement of the law of wills that is absolutely the law today that a will has no effect until the testator dies. That's exactly what the will, what it says today.

We know how to plan for the future with things like, there's a possibility of a tornado. I will have a generator, or I will have a tornado shelter, or I might lose electricity, and so I'll have water, because I won't have my pump working. There's all kinds of things that we do to prepare for those kind of emergencies that might possibly happen. Did you know if you have not done estate planning, that you have abdicated that to the government? Do you really, really want to do that? If you don't have a will, it's called the law of intestate succession, the state has a will for you. If you don't have a will, regardless of what you said, "I want ten percent to go to the Lord when I die," that kind of thing, it won't matter. It won't go there. You won't be able to give to the Lord. You won't be able to have a Delay Distribution.

I'll tell you, I wasn't ready at age eighteen, and I don't think any people are ready to receive a substantial amount. If both parents somehow die, and all of that goes to the children, it will go unrestricted to the children at age eighteen. If you don't have a will, that's the will the government has for you. The government will also assume that you’re not going to make any distinguishing factors. You might have a child who ends up stealing form you. All of these things I've had happen in my practice over the last forty plus years. You wouldn't be able to treat the children who have been faithful and haven't stolen from you any differently than the one who had the bad character.

By the way, that ... Pastor Viars mentioned [Nikki Lambeth 00:25:42], there's [Nikki Lambeth 00:25:43] in my arms, when precious Pam and I were children. I hear this all the time. Young people think, "I don't have anything. I don't need a will." Yet they have a child or children. That is the most reckless, because you can't determine who is going to take care of your children. Right now, right now I'm dealing with a case where a man and a woman were married for five years, second marriage for both of them. He had five children. She mothered those children for five years. He died in an accident, and an evil sister of the man who died stepped in, got guardianship of the children, and she has not seen those children since. They were her kids. If he had had a will, those kids would have definitely been with her.

Also, if you don't have a will, it doesn't just go to the surviving spouse. This is just one example of the law. It would go half to the children, regardless of whether they're people who would be deserving or take care of it or anything else. How about this one, joint ownership? "I think everything's okay, because I have it, I put everything into joint ownership with my son." Well that's pretty slick. When you die, it's his. Don't worry about it and so forth.

Here's the exposure. Again, it's a roulette wheel. I'm not saying that it would happen, but if that son has financial trouble, whether it's through creditors or it's an action with a large judgment or something, all of the property that you put into joint ownership with him is going to be in jeopardy. I'm not talking about husband and wife joint property, because there's a Tenancy by the Entirety which is a special thing where you don't worry about judgement when it's a husband or a wife together. I'm talking about somebody who is not your spouse.

There isn't really time to talk about the difference between a will or a trust, but they both are estate planning documents. If you have a trust, you would also have what's called a power of a will to be a backstop or a safety net to catch anything that you forgot to put in the trust. There are some advantages to trusts. They're more expensive to setup. They're more technical to setup, but that's what the lawyer does. Here we go. A trust, by the way, is a relationship between the person creating it, the trustor or settler or grantor and the trustee of the trust, the person who's responsible. Typically, that would be the same person or the same couple. Then there are beneficiaries. Typically, the beneficiary's for the person that would be that couple again while they're living.

Both of them are matters of estate planning that you can make sure that you're determining the future of your assets for the benefit of your children and the Lord. Another document is a durable power of attorney. This is where somebody has the power to sign documents for and deal with your property. Advance care directives, I'm sorry I'm just going through this quickly, but this is just to give you an idea of the documents that are out there. Then I want you to talk to your lawyer and get this done, because it's good, necessary, important stewardship.

A living will has to do with if you are close to death, whether or not you'll have certain kinds of treatment. The power of attorney for healthcare has to do with somebody else being able to make decisions for you if you can't. You can have a do not resuscitate order as a part of that. Very significantly, if you have the durable power of attorney and the power of attorney for health care, you are able to know that even if you have an accident, and you're in a coma or disabled for some reason, that you can avoid a court-directed guardianship, very important.

By all means, check your beneficiary designations. That's a matter of contract like on your IRAs, [keyo 00:29:59], 401k, life insurance, and so forth. Make sure that those are current, and it's what you want. Many times you would make the designation to the spouse, and if the spouse doesn't survive, if you have special conditions in your will or trust, you'll make your estate or the trustee of trust, the second of contingent beneficiary so that all of the provisions that you wanted will be implied. If you don't do that, it will just go outright to whoever you name.

Getting started, I gave you a web address so that you can pull down forms that actually help you go through the questions and gather information. Even though it's my form, if you would just follow this and fill it out, it will help you get prepared, and then take that with you to your lawyer. He may raise his eyebrows, like, "Wait a minute. This is a different law firm." Just say, "Well, there was this guy who came and talked at our church, and so I just used his form." What you want to do is gather this information, take it to your attorney, and start the process.

Also, doing a financial inventory, whether you're going to do a trust or not. With a trust, it's an absolute necessity because we have to get all of the property into the trust. Even if you're doing the will, you need to know on a current basis your assets and your liabilities. Someone else besides you needs to know where that is. You organize your vital records. Again, if we had time, we could just rip through all of these. If you will have, I have a notebook called vital records, and insurance policies, estate planning documents, and on and on, everything that might be helpful to somebody if you pass, should be collected.

Here are the things that you consider. I'm just going to read these off. You can read them with me. When you die, who gets what? You need to know what your objectives are. If someone predeceases the person you name, who's going to get it in that event? At what age or ages do you want your children to receive distribution? Is there a need of delayed distribution? If you have a trust, who's going to be the trustee or successor trustee? Who's going to be the personal representative? We used to call that executor. Now we call personal representative. Whether you're going to have a memorandum where you can just list, "I want this base to go to Aunt [Suzie 00:32:28]."

Any special bequests you want to put right in your will or trust. Again, very importantly, who would be the guardians of your children while they're minors. Any special circumstances that want to be addressed? Getting to the power of attorney, who would be that? Who would be an alternate? Healthcare agent and successors, whether you want a living will and then which type. If a trust, like I said, you have to gather all of those documents and information.

Loving enough to prepare for the future by including bequests and gifts to the church in Christian ministries. I know that it's common for someone who's a very faithful Christian to say, "Well, listen. I tithed, and even more than tithed for my life, so any money that I have is already, uh, been, uh, recognizing giving to the Lord."

Well, let me just tell you, one of the delights of looking to the future is knowing that not only have you left a legacy with your life and what your testimony was and how you've affected others, but you were able to provide some resources that God can take that stuff. Isn't it amazing? God can take that stuff and turn it into eternal results. That's big. That's huge. What an investment that would be. There's various ways. Obviously you can give gifts, just like we took an offering today. You can give current gifts. There are charitable gift annuities. You can have a complex trust that has charitable remainder unitrust or annuity trust in it, that kind of thing. You can just leave gifts outright. You can leave gifts to the church with a specific desire, that this will be applied to the Hartford [Hub 00:34:17] Project. That kind of thing.

You can be very specific, but without a will, I want to remind you, you’re not going to be able to leave anything to the Lord. It's important to remember that whether it's a revocable trust or a will, you can change it. It's not last will and testament means the last ever. It's like last Saturday, the closest in the past. What you do is you make your plans as you can see things now. Two or five years from now, if something has changed, you can make a real time decision then. You can either redo the will, or do a codicil to a will or you can make an amendment to your trust. You can do that whenever circumstance change.

By the way, somebody says, and this happens a lot, "Well I have a will that I did twenty-five years ago, and it really is still the same as I want." Well, that's fine except what your doing is making it so it's going to be more expensive in the probate process because it used to be that you had to prove the will by having the testimony, whether the live testimony or affidavit of a subscribing witness about how it was executed and so forth. If you do a self-proving certificate as a part of your will, then that process is skipped, and you don't have to do that. By the way, I'll just say this without apology. That by itself is enough reason to redo your will, to make sure that it's going to be the easiest for those you leave behind, and it will save money.

There are a lot of things that could change that would give rise to either a change in your will or your trust. Your children may be old enough and so some of the provisions, you don't want to apply, there might be special needs. Some child is wealthy and doesn't need anything. It would not be good stewardship to just give them that equal share. Divorce has all kinds of complications. Someone has died that you had named. Your own financial situation may have changed up or down, so that you want to do things differently. You've moved to another state. Typically, that's not an issue, but in some limited circumstances it could be. You want to change the personal representative of the trustee or even the laws may change.

That's one of the reasons why I ask my clients when they sign documents to please let me know if you change your address so that I can get ahold of you if a law changes that might affect your documents. I do a provision in my instruments that's, it's just unique. I do it, but I leave, if it's the will, I leave with the personal representative, or if it's the trust, I leave with the trustee, what I call a superpower so that notwithstanding, anything else in the document, if they conclude that the beneficiary is involved in some kind of addictive behavior or has creditor or credit problems that might give rise to judgments that could take the money or their marriage is really unstable such that distribution at this time might give rise to that being off and away in a direction not intended.

There's a lot of flexibility. We can basically, if you tell your lawyer what you want, your lawyer will be able to get you there. Another one that's really loving preparation is a funeral directive. You can make this imperative or just suggestive. To put down, if you want a funeral, if you want to be buried or cremated, if you want a memorial service, do you want a special person to be the person who is officiating? Any special songs? Any special scripture? Any special singers? Who will be your pallbearers? All that stuff you can layout that's really helpful. They don't want to be sitting around while they're grieving trying to figure that out. You can do that for them.

Additionally, even putting out information for your obituary. I remember when my dad died, we were sitting around saying, "Okay, when did he get his PhD?" That kind of thing. It just is helpful, but also in that same document, put your financial information and where to find documents and whom to contact and so forth. That's a very loving thing. I have a web address in your bulletin that you can pull that out.

Where do you keep your documents? Well, if you already have a safety deposit box, that's great. In Indiana it's relatively simple to get into that. I like to recommend either a fire proof, water proof, strong box or safe at home. Do not put it in a bag and put it in your freezer. I've had that one too where when they pulled it out, it was just molded mush and useless. Don't do that.

How much does it cost? Different lawyers charge differently. I'll just tell you. I might as well just tell you, because here's a real lawyer who's saying what he charges. For the whole package of husband and wife, wills, the powers of attorney, living will, and so forth, that's nine hundred dollars. If it were a revocable living trust, that whole process including the assets going into trust costs about two thousand dollars.

How about this? "I don't need a lawyer, because I've got LegalZoom." You've seen the commercials. Right now I'm dealing with a woman who did that. Her dad did that. The evil, evil brother and the good daughter and the good daughter was to get everything, but they didn't do it right. We have literally been in multiple hearings trying to get around the fact that it was done wrong. Legally, I think my client is out that. It's one of those pay me now or pay me later things.

What are the next steps? You're going to decide what you need to do. Let me step back. Let me step back. If you have not received Christ, forget everything else I've said. Concentrate on that need, because you need to know the Lord. If you are a believer, please, please resolve. Whatever life you have left, you're going to plow it pell-mell everything you can to shine for the Lord, serve the Lord, testify for the Lord, evangelize your neighbors, and win people to Christ.

Rafe Refior

Rafe is a lawyer with offices in Lafayette and Warsaw.  For over 30 years he has served as chairman of the board of Lakeland Child Evangelism Ministries.  He has served for more than 10 years as a member of the International Board of Directors of The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM).  Rafe is the author of “It’s Your CHOICE - A Happy and God-Honoring Marriage” and has been counseling Christian couples for years.  Rafe and his wife, Pam, served as short-term missionaries to Japan in 1980-1981.  They have been members of Faith since 2006.  Rafe is active in a Point Man group, and he serves on the boards of directors of Vision of Hope and Faith Global Missions