Frequently Asked Questions
What will it cost me?
Most of our services are provided without cost or expectation. All of our estate planning services are provided free of charge. Our investment management and financial planning services are charged at a minimal fee.
We do pass along some expenses to providing estate planning and investment management services. As we work with a local attorney for estate planning matters, that attorney will charge a fee for his or her work in reviewing and approving the documents. This fee is negotiable with the local attorney and will vary depending on where you are located. Additionally, trading fees incurred through investment management are borne by the client.
If we are invited to your local assembly for a seminar or other presentation, there will be no fee asked or expected. We do have a strict non-solicitation policy.
How do you keep the ministry going if you don't charge for your services?
We are dependent on the Lord working through His people to keep this ministry going. The Lord is faithful and has always provided our need. Many of our clients either send us gifts directly or include Believers Stewardship Services as part of thier estate plan.
Why do I need to pay a local attorney when my situation is so simple?
Estate planning is governed by state law. We, at Believers Stewardship Services, are not licensed to practice law in every state. Also, if BSS is included in the estate plan as a beneficiary there is an implied conflict of interest that would prohibit us from completing the estate plan without at least recommending another attorney review the plan and make sure it complies with your desires.
We make every effort to keep the fees paid to local attorneys as reasonable as possible. If the local attorney will agree to let us do all of the drafting and updating, the fee charged to you will be minimal.
Can I still work with my local attorney?
Yes. In fact, we encourage you to work with your local attorney and are constantly trying to expand our network to include attorneys that are highly regarded and recommended. As we work with clients in a given state, it helps to have an attorney that already knows our clients or BSS directly.
What is the difference between a Will, a Living Will, and a Living Trust?
A Will, often called a Last Will and Testament, is a set of instructions to a probate court that will guide the court in the appointment of an executor and final distribution of your possessions. It will also include the appointment of a guardian of minor children, if that is needed. This document is only effective upon your death and can be changed at any time prior to that.
A Living Will is a set of instructions to the doctors, nurses or other medical personnel that are caring for you. This document deals only with "end-of-life" situations: terminal illness, persistent vegitative coma or some similar situation. It deals with what type of treatment you would like to receive and how you would like to be cared for in your dying days.
A Living Trust is a set of instructions you provide to a Trustee to handle your affairs. This document is effective as soon as you sign it. It is a means to avoid many of the problems with probate while accomplishing a smooth distribtution of your assets upon your death or management of your affairs during times when you are unable to participate in that management.
Why do I need to bother with an estate plan? I will let my family handle it when I'm gone.
This sounds like a nice plan for you, but think about your family and what options they may have. At the worst possible time for a family, they are required to gather information about your assets, pay all your debts, decide who you wanted to receive certain items, all while grieving your death.
It is actually a very loving thing for you to prepare your estate plan. You know where everything is. You know who should get what. You know which organizations you would like to support. By leaving it to the family to decide, you are actually leaving it to a judge to approve according to the dictates of the probate law. There may be unintended consequences that could have easily been avoided if you had taken a little time now to plan for the inevitable later.
I already have an estate plan. How often should I update it?
Most people review thier estate plans about once every 20 years. In that time things change: the law, your children, you, the organizations you would like to support.
It is our recommendation that you review your estate plan at least every five years or after every major change in your life, thereby ensuring that the plan is still working the way you would like it to. You may not need to make any changes, but it is good to know that your plan still honors God in the way you would want it to.
Why should I make gifts to the Lord's work? I would rather give it all to my kids and let them experience the joy of giving.
There are a couple of issues to consider here. First, it is the blessing that the Lord provided you. Therefore, it is your responsibility to handle the assets in a way that will honor God.
Second, you cannot be sure that your children will make the gifts in the manner and to the organizations that you would most like to see supported. The way to be sure is to make the gift yourself and then leave an amount to your children that would be a blessing to them. They still have the opportunity to make gifts as the Lord leads them and as they have seen through your example.
Third, if you have a taxable estate, charitable gifts is a good way to reduce the potential tax. While your children would receive a charitable deduction if they itemize, your estate would only get the benefit if the estate makes the gift.
Finally, you can utilize a Donor Advised Fund to accomplish the best of both worlds. Your estate would get a charitable deduction and your children could be named as the advisor on the fund to recommend gifts to charitable organizations. This option would still give them the joy of making gifts while assuring you that the Lord's work will be benefited.
We have a large family, but we don't want some to be guardians. How do we choose the right guardian for our children?
This is a very personal decision. There is no right or wrong answer, but there may be a right process to arrive at the right answer for you.
In every family, there will be some people who share different beliefs and practices. You will need to decide who is best situated to raise your children in the manner that is best for the children. This may eliminate somone that lives a great distance from you, if you don't want to move the children from friends, school and church at a time they are grieving the loss of their parents.
There may be some strife in the family. In that case, you would want to select someone that would be able to navigate the waters best. Isolating the children from either side of the family would not usually be in their best interest. Is there a family member that would be able to make sure the children have continued contact with both sets of grandparents and all of their cousins?
Is there a family member that has children close in age to your children that would help to make the transition as seemless as possible? How strong in the faith are the various family members? Is there one member that more closely reflects your beliefs and zeal?
Once the decision is made, it is best to talk with the persons involved. You will want to make sure the person you selected is willing and able to take in your children. It will also be best if you explain to the other family members in advance what they should expect, especially if you know there is someone that would be outspoken in trying to become guardian. Anything you can do now to avoid fighting and surprise later will be greatly appreciated by your children and the other family members.