"Planned Giving" is a term that for many people sounds quite imposing and perhaps not clear what it means. Simply stated, planned giving is charitable giving that is part of a family's financial and estate planning.
For people of faith, estate and financial planning is a key component of stewardship. Stewardship is realizing in our minds and hearts that everything we are and everything that we have are God's loving gifts to us; we are merely stewards of those blessings.
There are four basic principles of stewardship:
- Praying to God with grateful hearts,
- Nurturing our family with time and love,
- Sharing our gifts with our community, and
- Returning to God the first fruits of our labors.
We understand these principles pretty well during our life. We pray; we spend time with our family; we volunteer for ministries and activities in our parish, school, neighborhood and community; and we contribute funds to the Church and our favorite charities.
These same stewardship principles apply to our estate planning; our estate plan can rightly be considered our final act of stewardship. We should pray for God's guidance on the appropriate distribution of our estate property. By making a will and executing other estate planning documents we ensure that our family is taken care of after we are gone. By making a bequest or other special gift to the Church through our parish, the Archdiocese of Detroit Endowment Foundation, or other archdiocesan agency we ensure that those ministries and activities we supported with our time, talent and treasure during our life will continue to flourish for many future generations. And certainly, these bequests and special gifts do in fact return to God the first fruits of our labors.
Estate and charitable gift planning is stewardship of our assets, just like our weekly offering during our life is stewardship of our income. It is common, however, to plan our estate with everything eventually distributed to our family. But we should ask ourselves several questions as food for thought in determining our estate and financial goals and objectives:
Is giving relatively large sums of money to my children when they are young a wise thing to do?
Did I give everything to my children when I was alive, or did I give to the Church and charities as well? Why should it be different for the distribution of my assets?
Is making a charitable bequest or other special gift in my estate plan perhaps my final opportunity to teach my children that everything we are and have is God's gift to us?
Only you can answer these questions as you and your family develop your estate and financial plan and then review your plans periodically to determine they still meet the goals and objectives for you and your family.
The pages within Planned Giving describe some gift opportunities for you to consider as you plan your family's future in the spirit of stewardship.