The Timing Decision – When to Leave an Inheritance

I am an idealist.  My family will tell you that my entrepreneurial attitude toward life has been a blessing and a drawback.  They love the fact that they can count on me for hopeful and encouraging words; they groan when I tease them with platitudes that they’ve grown up hearing.

As an idealist who must live in the “real world,” I’ve had to become versed in what I call a “coping gap.”  A coping gap is the difference between expectations and reality.  It’s the gap of disappointment that often derails people from executing God-given dreams and plans.  Nowhere is the coping gap more painful or measurable than in a person’s financial picture.

You may have a dream to give away thousands of dollars to a charity that is dear to your heart, but with the financial pressures and demands of life, you may see no way to ever accomplish that dream.  You may have a dream to retire at age 50 and begin a new phase of ministry with your spouse, but the financial pressures and demands of life may kill the dream as you struggle to make ends meet today.  You may have a dream to pay off your home and live debt-free, but the financial pressures and demands of life seem to drive you further into debt rather than away from it.

The coping gap – the difference between dreams and reality – often causes people to throw in the towel financially and simply live day-to-day and paycheck-to-paycheck.  Life gets messy, and dreams can die by the wayside.

Today, we are talking about the timing decision in the wealth transfer process.  Two principles that I often refer to are the “kingdom principle” (time your wealth transfer to maximize its use by you, your heirs, and kingdom servants) and the “givin’ while livin’ principle” (do your givin’ while you’re livin’ so you’re knowin’ where it’s goin’”).  Some of you might wonder how a person would ever decide how much to give away now.  Some of you might wonder how a person would ever know they had “extra” to go toward kingdom or family purposes at a certain point in their life.

In my opinion, executing these two principles is dependent upon minimizing the financial coping gap in your life.  In order to know if and when you have excess to give away now, you need to wrestle with the question, “how much is enough?”.  You need to define what you think it will take for you to have your intended lifestyle and retirement.  This planning is no small process, but worth it, for sure!

By spending time defining where you currently are in your finances, and by setting goals for where you wish to go, you are then capable of answering the question, “how much is enough?”.  My years as a financial advisor have taught me the critical importance of deciding ahead of time about your lifestyle and about your financial future.  When you decide ahead of time, you will know when you have arrived at your financial goal or destination.  For example, when you define your intended lifestyle, you will know when you have achieved it and how much extra you have to give away.  Or, when you define your intended retirement nest egg, you will know when it has been attained and how much you will have to share with your children now, for their current needs.

When you prayerfully decide where you are going and define your finish lines financially, you are more apt to live in reality, and you are more likely to see your financial picture clearly.  The coping gap is minimized.  You’ve brought your dreams into line with reality.  You are free to invest in the kingdom and in your family without being anxious about whether your financial dreams can or ever will come true.

May God’s peace encourage you as you pursue financial freedom and depend on His Truth.