August 11, 2017

At one time or another, everyone will be told they need a Will, but according to a recent survey, only about 40% of American adults actually have one. This is consistent with findings of other studies in previous years.

When it comes to preparing for the end of life, age is usually a key factor in people’s planning. Among those 72 or older, 81% have prepared needed documents, while 58% of the “baby boomer” generation (ages 58-71) has likewise done so.

Conversely, those who are young typically don’t have a plan in place. Indeed, 64% of Generation Xers (ages 37-52) and 78% of Millennials (ages 18-36) don’t have a Will.

For younger folks, the risk of not having a plan can go far beyond neglecting to designate who will receive worldly assets. When it comes to minor children, a court will decide who will be their guardian, who will make financial decisions regarding the same, etc. Of course, the court may designate the same person(s) that the parent(s) would (such as an adult brother or sister or grandparents). Then again, it might not. The point is only by having the proper estate-planning documents in place can the actual wishes of the parent(s) be guaranteed.

A Will or estate plan first and foremost should and usually does make provision for loved ones at the time of death. In addition to family, many Wills and estate plans also designate charitable organizations as recipients. In fact, another recent study found that the percentage of adults aged 55 and older naming charity as a beneficiary actually grew by an additional one-fourth (that is, from about 8% to 10%) during the decade following 1998. One of the groups contributing to this growth is married couples, which showed an increase of over 28% during this period.

Of course, any charity, ministry, non-profit agency, etc., is eligible to receive bequests and estate gifts provided they are a 501(c)(3) or otherwise federally approved organization. As you can imagine, pro-abortion agencies are also among those groups that do all they can to encourage their supporters to remember them in their Will or estate plan. For example, in its annual report for the year ending June 30, 2016, the national office of Planned Parenthood noted that it received $21.7 million in bequests. The year before, it received more than double that at $53.8 million. Undoubtedly, Planned Parenthood has tens of millions more in bequest commitments lined up which they will receive one day. Please note that none of this includes the hundreds of millions they receive annually in government revenue or fees from individuals for “services provided.”

For this reason, we prayerfully hope that some of the estimated 10% of those designating an estate gift to charity have remembered life-affirming ministries in their Will. We also hope that some of those dedicated to Lutherans For Life have included LFL.

Of course, it’s not too late to designate a bequest to LFL. Just how can you do this? There are four basic ways: 

  • Designate a fixed-dollar amount or percentage of your assets. Of the two, a fixed percentage is popular because if your estate grows or shrinks before you are called home, the amount that is bequeathed to LFL will likewise be adjusted automatically.

  • Designate specific property (such as Grandma’s ring, a coin collection, vacation or farm residence, etc.).

  • Designate a percentage of the residuary. This is a percentage of what remains in your estate after all specific bequests have been made (such as those made to loved ones).

  • Designate LFL as your contingent. This is what might be called a “worst case scenario” bequest. In short, this is where an organization such as LFL is named as the beneficiary if (and God forbid!) any common disaster or incident should result in the death of all persons you have named as beneficiaries.

Now, what wording should be used in leaving a bequest to LFL? We recommend the following:

“Lutherans For Life, 1101 5th Street, Nevada, Iowa, 50201, 515-382-2077, (EIN 41-1374293), to be used at the discretion of its board of directors in accordance with its mission.”

Of course, you will want to consult an attorney to see if you should revise your Will (or create one for the first time) to discuss the specific ways mentioned above to leave a bequest to LFL (and possibly other ministries). Should you have any questions regarding the ministry, feel free to contact me at 512.468.9777 or

Please note this article is not intended as legal or financial advice. For assistance in specific cases, you are encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional advisors.