Have you named the church in your will?

A case study in giving – what happens when I’m gone?

Bill and Sue are faithful Anglicans. They have attended church regularly all their lives, not every week but steadily for as long as they can remember.

Now, Bill and Sue are 75 and having just attended the funerals of a few of their dear friends, have decided to update their wills. It would be a simple process, almost everything would be left to their two children and five grandchildren!

When Bill and Sue’s lawyer asked if any charities were important to them, they immediately thought of the church. They volunteered at a children’s charity and Sue was a cancer survivor, so both of those places would also receive something, but the church lays at the heart of their lives and they wanted to honour that in their will. However, they were unsure of the amount and decided to think about it.

Bill and Sue are part of the 20% who have supported the church all of their lives. They raised their children in the church, and though the children (now grown) don’t often attend now, the grandchildren have been baptized and attend with their parents when they can or when Bill and Sue bring them along. They cannot imagine navigating life without their faith, or without the church and do not want the next generations to face that possibility.

Bill and Sue’s offering is $400 per month, not including capital campaigns or special offerings. They decided to consult with their financial advisor to find out how much they would need to leave the church to maintain their givings after they died. This is what their advisor reported to them.

Bill and Sue would need to leave the church $77,000 in order for the church to collect $4,800 ($400 per month) for the next 25 years. Bill was shocked! He had no idea that their offering was so critical to the life of the church. He then realized how significant it was when a parishioner’s givings stopped at the end of their life.

As Bill thought about the friends he had lost in the past few years, he began to understand how those loses were impacting the vitality of the church financially as well as personally. Bill shared his thoughts with Sue and they called their financial advisor. Could they possibly leave $75,000 to the church in their estate and still provide for their heirs? The advisor said she would look into it and show them how best to set it up. And that is what they did.

* For illustration purposes only. Assumes a 4% rate of return and income is not adjusted for inflation (e.g.: $100 per month would remain stable at $100 per month for the full 27 years).

Andra Townshend O’Neill is a member of diocesan Stewardship Committee