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Survey: Too many pastors have no estate plan

| Sep 4, 2018 | Wills, Trusts, And Estate Planning

Since pastors spend a fair amount of time considering the afterlife, one might expect that they are vigilant about their estate planning. “Pastors know they can’t take it with them,” as the head of the Southern Baptist Foundation points out. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re taking the necessary steps to care for their loved ones who are left behind.

More than half of Americans have no estate plan — even a will. A recent survey of Southern Baptist pastors found that the same is true of them.

While results varied somewhat depending on the age of the pastor and whether or not they had children, the percentage of those who had any estate planning documents in place was low. The head of the research firm that conducted the survey noted, “the segment that should be most likely to be thinking about this issue — those with young families — seem to be the least prepared.”

Fewer than a third of pastors under 45 said they had a will in place. A little over half of those 55 and older reported having one. The percentage of pastors with other estate planning documents like health care directives and durable powers of attorney was considerably lower.

The survey also found a lack of awareness of estate planning laws and what happens when someone dies without an estate plan. That was evidenced by respondents’ answers to questions about who determines what happens to children and assets when there’s no estate plan in place.

As the director of the research firm noted, “Nearly half of the pastors surveyed misunderstand what happens to their assets…and one in five misunderstand[s] what happens to children when parents die without a will.” Many said they thought these decisions were made by the family. In fact, in the absence of an estate plan, the court decides.

The Southern Baptist Foundation’s president notes that “estate planning is really about good stewardship for your family.” Regardless of your profession, your family dynamic or what kind of legacy you want to leave, your Arizona estate planning attorney can help you accomplish your estate planning goals.

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