This month, we’ve discussed the philosophical questions: “to whom,” “how much,” and “when” with respect to estate planning. Those decisions come with a lot of responsibility!
Today, we’re talking about the “Title Decision,” or the process of actually deeding over resources to beneficiaries, either prior to your death or in your will.
From a practical angle, you may be handing over the title to family property or a family business. Or, you may be designating a beneficiary in your life insurance policy or creating a trust and designating trustees in your will. My encouragement to you is that you first work through the three foundational questions we’ve already covered. Only then do you decide what impact those decisions have on “titling” your various possessions and financial instruments. Once you’ve decided the impact, seek strong legal or financial advice in actually executing the changes.
This decision about transference of title brings up the most fundamental principle of stewardship: God owns it all. None of my possessions are mine to begin with.
Shifting resources that we’ve managed our whole lives to another, often younger, steward takes a lot of trust – mostly trust in the Lord to guide and direct that next steward as He has guided us. Taking the step of giving away a business or property or money that we’ve “owned” and cared for over many years can reveal how much we really do believe that God owns that resource.
Many of you are not at a place in life where you are transferring the bulk of your resources to another generation. However, many of you are parents with children in your homes. And, parenting, by definition, is the process of transferring your resources to another generation!
A few questions for you: as you parent your children, are you able to recognize that they are the Lord’s and that God has given them all of the gifts and talents they possess? Are you able to practice giving them control over small amounts of resources (time and money in particular) so that they can learn how to steward the gifts of life in a safe, loving environment?
Be encouraged that even God the Father handed over management of resources to a much less experienced steward. Genesis 1:26 (ESV) says, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” Even God handed over management of the “family business”!
In my opinion, one of the best ways to teach children to steward resources is through the envelope system. Not only does the envelope system give children a chance to learn how to spend, save, and give with a small amount of money, it also trains parents to let go of total control over children’s decisions so that they can safely learn from experience.
Something about human nature makes it much easier to hold on than to let go. Whether it’s sending a child to kindergarten, walking a daughter down the aisle, or signing a will that distributes your assets, letting go feels scary. Spiritually, I know that surrender to the Lord is the path to experiencing grace and peace. Materially, when I learn to surrender my family and my money at the right time to the next steward, I will also find that I can live with more grace and greater peace.
May God’s peace encourage you as you pursue financial wisdom and depend on His Truth.