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Only 54% of pastors nearing retirement age have a will.

A survey conducted by the Southern Baptist Foundation has found an estate planning contradiction among its pastors, who believe people should create an estate plan but don’t have one themselves, according to the Baptist Press in “Young or old, many pastors lack a will, survey finds“.

The foundation’s survey found that a majority of their pastors do not have an estate plan, including a will, durable power of attorney and healthcare directives. However, when asked about the importance of having an estate plan, 74% said it should be part of a person’s financial stewardship.

Basic planning saves a lot of headaches for loved ones. With an estate plan, assets can be protected, and taxes can be minimized. While it’s understandable why people might want to procrastinate, the reality is that not having a will can have a devastating impact on the family and on the estate.

The survey reveals that pastors age 18-44 are least likely to have a will or a durable power of attorney or health care directives. However, even among pastors closest to retirement, ages 55-64 and 65 and up, only 54% have a will. Only 25% of these groups have a durable power of attorney.

One concern is that pastors with young families do not have a will in place. They do understand (64%) that in the absence of a will, the court decides who will care for a child, if the last parent dies without a will.

48% of the pastors agreed with a statement that if someone dies without a will, the family decides what happens with the assets of the deceased.

The fact is, for property and children, the court decides what happens, if there is no will in place.

Having a will protects the family in many ways. It protects minor children by allowing the parents to decide who they want to be given the responsibility to rear the children—a guardian—and to also select a person who will manage the funds left for the children.

A will also allows a person to express their wishes regarding the distribution of their assets. An estate plan can be designed to minimize tax liabilities and, if used in combination with certain trusts, control how and when assets are distributed.

An estate planning attorney can advise you in creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances.

Reference: Baptist Press (Aug. 31, 2018) “Young or old, many pastors lack a will, survey finds

For more information on asset preservation and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.