Leave a Legacy

Get inspired

Seek wisdom for your financial future, and begin to think about creating a will. 

 

Get a will

Find the easiest ways to get an up-to-date will that reflects your personal values.

 

Have peace

Tell your family about your future plans. Leave an eternal legacy!

 

 

Get inspired

Seeking wisdom is the first step in this journey.

Ask the Lord to inspire your heart and guide your steps with principles from his Word. 

Planned Giving

Roger and Nancy Visser

 

Prayer of a good & faithful servant

Lord, the earth and everything in it is yours! (Psalm 24:1) Everything comes from you, and I have given you only what comes from your hand (1 Chronicles 29:14). You send poverty and wealth (1 Samuel 2:7). Have you not put a hedge around me and my household and everything I have? (Job 1:10)

Father, in your Word you said it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2). And so Lord, I want to honor you with my wealth (Proverbs 3:9). I know that faith, if not accompanied by action, is dead (James 2:17). But unless I respond in love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:3). I am willing and my heart is moved to bring an offering to you Lord (Exodus 35:21).

Lord, you’ve called me to provide for my family (1 Timothy 5:8). And to provide for those who have instructed me in your Word (Galatians 6:6). And to share with your people who are in need (Romans 12:13). And to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). And so may my service of giving to you – during and after my lifetime – supply the needs of your people and overflow in many expressions of thanks to you (2 Corinthians 9:12), so that one day I’ll hear you say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23). For it’s in the mighty name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

What does God say about providing for my family?
  • Make provision for your loved ones. “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)
  • Take steps to avoid interpersonal conflicts. “Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.” (Proverbs 11:29)
  • Be cautious about leaving large inheritances to children. “An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end.” (Proverbs 20:21)
  • Don’t store up excess resources you don’t need. “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.” (Luke 12:18)
  • Use family resources to reach people for Christ. “It is God Who gives seed to the man to plant. He also gives the bread to eat. Then we know He will give you more seed to plant and make it grow so you will have more to give away.” (2 Corinthians 9:10)
7 Habits of highly effective believers
  1. Be Thankful. “In everything give thanks…” (I Thessalonians 5:18 ). A steward’s heart begins with an attitude of gratitude.
  2. Trust God to Provide. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God….” (1 Timothy 6:17).
  3. Be Content. “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…” (Hebrews 13:5). Contentment isn’t “getting what you want – it’s wanting what you’ve got.”
  4. Be a Faithful Example. “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children.…” (Deuteronomy 6: 6-7). Our children may fail to listen, but they seldom fail to imitate us.
  5. Live Within Your Means. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13). We can live on less than we make in the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
  6. Give Time and Talent. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10 ). Highly effective stewards use their time and talents to honor God.
  7. Give Treasure. “Honor the Lord with your wealth….” (Proverbs 3:9). Our giving shows our loyalty to Christ – during and after our lifetimes.
5 best ways to bless your family's future
  1. Get a will. When people start adding up the value of their home, life insurance, retirement accounts, and other property, they begin to see that even with a modest middle class estate, a plan is needed that provides for their families and the charities they love.
  2. Reduce (or eliminate) unnecessary taxes and court costs. A will can help you reduce probate hassles and costs, avoid certain taxes, and decrease other administrative expenses – freeing up more resources to your heirs and charitable work.
  3. Decide who will manage your stuff after you die. Without a will, a court decides how to distribute your estate. On the other hand, when you name your own representative in your Will, you decide who will distribute the money and things entrusted to you.
  4. Decide who will take care of your kids. If you have minor children, a will allows you to name the guardian of your children and a Trustee of the assets to provide for the children. If a court is left to make these decisions for you, your spiritual values may be disregarded.
  5. Include “ministry” in your family. Your will can be powerful a testimony to family and friends. Including your extended “family” in your will – namely your church and favorite charities – is a wonderful way to express your values for generations to come.
What happens if I die without a will?

If you do not have a will, the State actually has one for you. Unfortunately, that means state law would determine (without your input):

  • Who will be the next steward of the resources entrusted to you
  • Who will care for your young children
  • Who will administer your estate

With a will, you get to decide these things. In addition to making sure your immediate family is provided for in your will, you can also bless your extended “family” – including your church and favorite charitable organizations.

Top 10 reasons to update your will

These 10 life events may signal it’s time for an up-to-date will:

  1. Marriage or Divorce
  2. New baby, adopted children, or stepchildren
  3. Moving to another state
  4. Changing your mind about heirs
  5. Major changes in property ownership or financial assets
  6. Changes in estate planning and estate tax law.
  7. Death or disability of someone named in your will
  8. Children have reached the age of 18
  9. You would like to provide for a ministry organization
  10. It has been three years or more since you have reviewed your will.

Get a will

One of the best ways to steward the resources entrusted to you is to have an up-to-date will that reflects your personal values, provides for your loved ones, and blesses the charities you care about. Below we’ve included some practical resources to help you begin your journey.

Get help online

Most people can fill out an online will in less than an hour. Click below for links to popular online will sites.

How do Online Wills Work?

Most online will sites guide you through a simple 3-step process:

  1. Answer Questions. You’ll be guided through a series of fill-in-the-blank questions about your wishes regarding your family, your property, who you want to be in charge of making sure your wishes are taken care of. The questionnaire is often provided at no charge, and most people can complete it within about 30 minutes.
  2. Review Answers. You’ll have an opportunity to review your own answers for completeness and accuracy. Some sites also provide online tools and “ask a lawyer” features to give you a more in-depth review.
  3. Finalize documents. The last step is to receive your documents online or in the mail. The online will site will also provide instructions for getting signatures to finalize your documents, as well as storage recommendations.
4 Advantages of Online Wills

Is an online will right for you? Below are four reasons people get an online will:

  1. Affordable. Let’s face it. When it comes to getting a will, cost is a big concern for many people. A lawyer may charge you $500 for a basic will (and a lot more if your estate is complicated). But most people can get an online will for less than $70.
  2. Easy. Online will sites provide simple questionnaires that the average person can answer in about 30 minutes or less. With an attorney, you may have to schedule a couple of face-to-face appointments to review your information and to finalize your documents.
  3. Quality. Do-it-yourself online legal documents have been accepted by court and government agencies in all 50 states. Some of the most popular online will sites were started by attorneys – and offer high-quality, legally valid, state-specific wills.
  4. Private. Some people are uncomfortable with the idea of discussing their financial and family information with a complete stranger. Although attorneys are required to keep your discussions confidential, many prefer the anonymity of fill-in-the-blank online forms.
Including Mission or Charity in Your Will

Here are the most common ways to significantly increase your ministry impact through your will:

  • Add “Charity” to your family. Some families treat charitable organizations like an additional child. For example, if a family has three children, they might add a fourth child named “Charity” and divide the assets in their will into four equal parts. Each of their children would receive 25%, and the remaining 25% would be divided among their favorite charitable organizations.
  • Tithe on your Estate. Other families commit a 10% tithe of their estate to the charitable organizations they love, dividing the remaining 90% among their heirs.
  • Cap. Others prayerfully decide to “cap” their children’s inheritance, leaving the rest of their assets to ministry. This approach is used when the parents want to provide a modest gift to bless their children and eliminate concerns of creating dependence or giving too much too soon.
  • Update an existing will. An attorney can add, delete, or change an item in your will with an additional statement called a “codicil.” Here’s an example: “I give, devise, and bequeath twenty- five percent (25%) of my residuary estate to [charity name] whose address is [city, state, zip code]. Like a will, a codicil must be dated, signed, and witnessed.
Sample Bequest Language

Leaving a gift in your will to a ministry or charity that you love is a great expression of your personal values, and it may be simpler than you think. If you would like to do this, consider including this language in your Estate Plans:

General Support

  • If you want to support the overall mission of the charitable organizations dear to your heart, please use the following language: “I give _______ (% or dollar amount) of my estate to (Charity Name of City/State) for its general use.”

Specific Program

  • If you want to support a specific program fund of the charitable organizations dear to your heart, use the following language: “I give ____ (% or dollar) of my estate to (Charity Name of City/State) for the (Name of the Project or Fund).”
Tax ID Number

Legal Name: Dordt University

Federal Tax ID Number: 42-0772559

Get help in person

Save time and money by filling out our 'Will Guide' on your own before you see an attorney or estate planner.

How do I find a lawyer?

If you decide to use a lawyer to create or update your will – or review your online will – you’ll want to find an attorney who shares your values and is knowledgeable in estate planning.

There are three sources you can check for a referral to a trusted estate planning attorney:

  1. Christian Legal Society. You can go online for a referral from the Christian Legal Society, network of attorneys committed to acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with their God (Micah 6:8). 
  2. Contact Us. You can contact our office for a referral.
  3. Your Pastor. Pastors are connected to a wide network of people which may include an estate planning attorney. Even if your pastor doesn’t already know an attorney, he or she can likely ask others for a trusted referral to send your way.
Do I need a lawyer to make a will?

No. There is no legal requirement that a will be drawn up by a lawyer. Most people can use quality, fill-in-the-blank legal documents to take care of basic concerns such as leaving their property to loved ones and naming a guardian for young children. However, there are a number of situations where it would be highly recommended to work with a lawyer instead of creating an Online Will:

  • If you have significant assets.
  • If you have a special needs, disabled, or dependent adult child.
  • If you’ve been divorced or re-married.
  • If you think one of your heirs might contest your will.
  • If you own a small business.
  • If you are concerned about guardianship issues for minor children.
  • If you’re raising grandchildren or stepchildren.
  • If you or your spouse are citizens of another country.
  • If you have questions about your will or the Online form doesn’t address your situation.

Online wills aren’t for everyone. In fact, even if you get an online will, we would recommend that you consider getting it reviewed by an attorney for added peace of mind.

Including Mission or Charity in Your Will

Here are the most common ways to significantly increase your ministry impact through your will:

  • Add “Charity” to your family. Some families treat charitable organizations like an additional child. For example, if a family has three children, they might add a fourth child named “Charity” and divide the assets in their will into four equal parts. Each of their children would receive 25%, and the remaining 25% would be divided among their favorite charitable organizations.
  • Tithe on your Estate. Other families commit a 10% tithe of their estate to the charitable organizations they love, dividing the remaining 90% among their heirs.
  • Cap. Others prayerfully decide to “cap” their children’s inheritance, leaving the rest of their assets to ministry. This approach is used when the parents want to provide a modest gift to bless their children and eliminate concerns of creating dependence or giving too much too soon.
  • Update an existing will. An attorney can add, delete, or change an item in your will with an additional statement called a “codicil.” Here’s an example: “I give, devise, and bequeath twenty- five percent (25%) of my residuary estate to [charity name] whose address is [city, state, zip code]. Like a will, a codicil must be dated, signed, and witnessed.
Sample Bequest Language

Leaving a gift in your will to a ministry or charity that you love is a great expression of your personal values, and it may be simpler than you think. If you would like to do this, consider including this language in your Estate Plans:

General Support

  • If you want to support the overall mission of the charitable organizations dear to your heart, please use the following language: “I give _______ (% or dollar amount) of my estate to (Charity Name of City/State) for its general use.”

Specific Program

  • If you want to support a specific program fund of the charitable organizations dear to your heart, use the following language: “I give ____ (% or dollar) of my estate to (Charity Name of City/State) for the (Name of the Project or Fund).”
Tax ID Number

Legal Name: Dordt University

Federal Tax ID Number: 42-0772559

 

 

We do not, and will not engage in the practice of law. Therefore it is important that you seek an attorney directly or through one of the online services that we have listed for preparation of legal work. We cannot review your estate plan for legal accuracy. You must rely upon the legal advice that you receive from your attorney or online legal service.

Have peace

Use the links below to multiply the blessing of your will to you, your family, and the ministries you love.

These resources will assist you as you begin to tell the ones you love about your plans and clearly communicate your wishes. 

An Ethical Will

An ethical will is Not Transactional — It’s Meaningful

An ethical will (or Legacy Love Letter) is a personal document you create to communicate your values, experiences, life lessons and family heritage to your family. Unlike a legal will which focuses on passing along your physical assets, property and items of monetary value, an ethical one serves to share guiding principles, memories, spiritual values, stories of personal faith, family objects with personal (but not necessarily monetary) value and future wishes for your family.

Writing a Legacy Love Letter

Because a Legacy Love Letter is not a legal document, and is not made for the purpose of distributing assets, the content and form of your letter is up to you. Here are four themes you may wish to cover in your Legacy Love Letter:

  1. Beliefs and Values. What do you believe about God? What are your guiding principles when it comes to marriage, raising children, church and ministry, handling money, etc.?
  2. Life Lessons. What were some of the defining moments of your life, and what did you learn from them? What experiences and people are you most grateful for? Think of significant events, moments and experiences in your life. What would you like them to know about your hopes for their futures?
  3. Personal Feelings. How can you communicate love to them? In other words, how have they impacted your life in a positive way? Is there anyone you owe an apology or confession you’ve never been able to communicate? An ethical will can be a powerful place to share these feelings.
  4. Message of Hope. What are some of the most meaningful passages of Scripture to you? What message of hope and encouragement do you wish to leave to your family and friends?
Ethical Will Worksheet

For help in creating an ethical will; download our free worksheet.

Sample Legacy Love Letter

Dear Children,

A passage from Psalm 16 resonates with us.  It says, “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance.” That verse prompted some heart-stirring conversations that we’d like to share with you.

We are so thankful for the “good inheritance” we have received from God. As we grow older, we want each of you to know how much we love you, and deeply appreciate the many ways you have enriched our lives. We’re especially pleased at many evidences of the Lord’s blessings in your lives. And we want you to know that the greatest pleasure you could give us is to pass on to your children, as we have tried to do with you, that same commitment to live all of your life as service to God.

We see our will as an ongoing testimony of our love for the Lord and for you, and that is reflected in the way we have divided our estate among you and the ministries we love. We hope that when the time comes, someone would read Psalm 16, as an encouragement for our family to continue serving the Lord with gladness for generations to come.

We love you,
Mom and Dad

Setting Up Your Legacy File

Make it easy for your loved ones to locate the documents they’ll need when the time comes

  • Contents list. A list of the contents in your Legacy File
  • Duplicate copy. If you create a duplicate copy of your Legacy File for your executor and for a safe deposit box, you should provide contact and location information.
  • Finances. Provide a list of bank accounts, CDs, mutual funds, and other investments with institution names, account names, and account numbers.
  • Funeral instructions. Provide details about your wishes for the funeral service, funeral home, burial arrangements.
  • Important eocuments. Create a “catch all” file for all other important documents your family may need such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, titles, etc.
  • Insurance. Create a single file with all insurance information – including auto, home, life, health, disability, etc. List the company name, policy numbers, and contact information.
  • Monthly budget. Include a copy of your monthly budget to help your family keep track of bills and run your household once you are gone.
  • Passwords. If you’re like most people, you have probably have a large and growing list of passwords, usernames, and PIN numbers for your bank accounts, web sites, voicemail, and more. Make a list of these important access codes in a single file.
  • Spiritual will. Sometimes called an ethical will is a “love letter” from you expressing your spiritual values, your love for family, your life lessons and beliefs.
  • Tax returns. It is recommended that you keep up to 7 years of tax returns on file in the event that you are audited by the IRS. This precaution will spare your family from a lot of unnecessary hassle if you are no longer around.
  • Will. A signed copy of your will, including information about guardianship, beneficiaries, executor, power of attorney, financial accounts, and charitable interests.

Source: Selected concepts based on the Legacy Drawer at www.daveramsey.com
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Notice of Bequest Letter

If you have included us in your will, we’d like to thank you appropriately and be sure we understand and honor your gift intentions. You can help us do that by sending us a “Notice of Bequest” letter. Here is a sample:

In recognition of my strong belief and confidence in its mission, I have made a gift by will to Dordt University.

If I make any change to this provision or if the value of the bequest or gift changes substantially, I will notify Dordt University of such change.

I understand that all information listed below will be kept in confidence unless I authorize its release.

Other Ways to Give

Charitable Gift Annuities

CGAs are a simple arrangement that involves a charitable gift and an annuity. You simply make a gift (part of which is tax-deductible), and receive fixed annuity payments each year for the remainder of your life. At the end of your life, the charitable gift goes to support our work. 

Stock Giving

Did you know appreciated stocks, bonds, and mutual funds in a taxable investment portfolio can be transferred as gifts to support Kingdom work? Giving stocks provides a significant opportunity to avoid capital gain tax, receive a deduction and simplify your giving. 

Charitable Trusts

A charitable trust allows you to bless a ministry you care about while still providing an income for you or your heirs. With a charitable lead trust, money is paid first to the ministry of your choice for a specified amount of time. Then at the end of the trust period, the balance goes to a designated beneficiary. A charitable remainder trust reverses that order, paying your heir first. 

Retirement Assets and IRA Giving

Designating a ministry as the beneficiary of your retirement account offers a number of tax advantages. Unlike individual beneficiaries, ministries are not required to pay income tax on withdrawals from these accounts, plus the sum you give will not be included in your adjusted gross income. 

Gifts In Kind

Gifts in Kind refer to the practice of giving actual goods or services to a ministry versus donating the money to buy them. These types of gifts can be as creative as the person giving them! 

Real Estate Gifts

Properties that can be given to us include personal residences, vacation homes, commercial property or land. Many people like to give gifts of real estate because the inherent value of the property far exceeds that of any other single asset. It’s very popular because even individuals with modest estates typically own real estate. 

Point of Death Transfers

POD Transfers are a way of designating beneficiaries to receive your assets automatically at the time of your death, without having to go through probate court. They also allow you to specify the percentage of assets each person or entity will receive.

Donor Advised Funds

One of the simplest ways to give real estate, stocks, mutual funds or commodities is through a Donor Advised Fund. This is an account you create directly with us for setting aside money or assets, receiving immediate tax benefits and allowing you the flexibility to distribute gifts over time. It’s like having your own charitable giving account.

Contact us

Dordt University
700 7th Street NE
Sioux Center, IA 51250-1606

Call: 712-722-6023
 

Additional gift planning support:
Toll-free: 888-448-3040

Dave Vander Werf

Director of Planned Giving

"We're pleased to offer this easy-to-use tool as a service to our 'family' of faithful supporters like you. Thank you!"