No Assets Left Behind – California Southern Baptist Convention

No Assets Left Behind

Published Jul 25, 2023

If you were an avid reader of Christian fiction during the nineties, chances are you had a shelf in your house packed with Left Behind books. Perhaps the only set of Revelation-inspired books to appear on the bestseller lists, Left Behind follows a set of characters who come to faith in Jesus after the rapture and must experience the apocalyptic global events described in the Bible. With the close of the tumultuous 20th century and the arrival of a new millennium, it seems like no one knew what to expect or how to prepare for the future. Though our destiny is secure in Christ through the plan of salvation, what about those resources God has entrusted us to manage?  We can either choose to use these resources to secure our families and support the Great Commission or leave them behind to be wasted on other things.

Thinking about estate planning, I have coined a phrase that seems to break the anxiety about future events: “No assets left behind.”  As an estate planning attorney, it’s my job to ensure my clients’ assets don’t wind up like the characters in Left Behind. I provide them with tools to help them steward their wealth appropriately, leaving nothing to waste, chance, or unreasonable risk. This helps us all keep the focus on the primary reason we do estate planning: to honor Jesus with all He has given us. I have seen many families succeed in this task by taking five simple steps to ensure their assets are not left behind when they go to meet the Lord:

  • Get started: Creating your estate plan has a wide array of benefits for your wealth, relationships, and spiritual life. So why do people put it off? For some, they let the busyness of life get in the way. Others are overwhelmed by the options, complications, and unanswered questions about their assets. Those thoughts are normal, but don’t allow such thoughts to stop you from achieving your goal of planning for the future to avoid unnecessary legal costs. Rome was not built in a single day. Just get started on your estate plan, and you will see God reveal his plan for your family. If you take the first step, our attorneys know how to get you across the finish line.
  • Fund your trust: To make your plans happen, you need to resource them. Work with your attorney and financial advisor to retitle your assets into the name of the trust or transfer them to the trust upon death by submitting beneficiary designations to your local bank, financial institution, and insurer. Be very clear about to whom or to what charity you want your assets to go. Funding your trust will keep undesignated assets from being subject to probate court.
  • Update your plan: The only constant thing in life is change. That is why we recommend reviewing your estate plan every two years. This will help your plan account for shifts in family dynamics and changes in law. If there has been a substantial change to your situation, such as a birth, death, marriage, divorce, or even a change of residence, you may need to update it more frequently. Updating your plan will avoid confusion later and avoid the cost and delay of going before a judge.
  • Be a peacemaker:  Christians should prayerfully consider family dynamics when making estate planning decisions to facilitate peace and reconciliation. It’s often said a Christian estate plan is the believer’s last act of parenting.  Open communication, prayer, and conciliation may lessen family disharmony and strengthen your Christian legacy.
  • Remember your faith convictions:  Your faith convictions are the why behind your estate plan. It is the whole purpose. For most of you, that purpose is to honor God with everything He has given you. As you delve into the minutia of your plan, never forget the reason you started this process in the first place.

With the help of the Lord and sound legal guidance, Christians can protect their families and glorify Christ with proper estate planning. In the end, we can have peace of mind that no stone is left unturned, and no asset is left behind.