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Funeral Planning

50% OF ADULTS COULD CAUSE THEIR LOVED ONES

UNNECESSARY PROBLEMS AND EXPENSE AFTER THEIR DEATH

Research shows that over half the UK adult population have not written a will so far.

Yet without a will that has been properly witnessed, UK law requires the Courts to decide how to distribute an estate according to a fixed legal formula. This takes time, incurs cost and almost certainly differs from what was really wanted. Many other adults have wills that are out of date, containing old addresses, or not reflecting their current family situation.

For nearly 500 years the Church of England has encouraged people to make a will. When Archbishop Thomas Cranmer wrote the first English Prayer Book in the sixteenth century, he reminded parishioners to keep their wills up to date while they were still in good health, for their own peace of mind as well as to help their executors.

In thinking about making a will, it is good to be reminded of David's prayer as he dedicated the Temple to God (1 Chronicles 29). As we determine our wishes for what should happen to our property, money and belongings; we remember that we are merely stewards of all that God has blessed us with during our lifetime.

If you are thinking about making or revising your will, please consider leaving a gift to the Church. As God's people, we have much to be thankful for. If it were not for the generations of Christians before us, faithfully sharing the Good News of God's forgiveness through Christ's sacrifice on the cross, we would not be here as members of the Church today.

The very building we meet in is a testimony to their love and generosity, built and maintained by our predecessors' investment and stewardship. They have left us a precious gift. Our inheritance was their legacy for the future.

So what will we hand to our children's children? In future years will they too know of Christ's love in this community? Will there still be a faithful community of Christians witnessing to God's love and forgiveness through practical service and regular worship? With our help, prayers and practical support all things are possible.

Why consider leaving a gift in your will to the Church?

It's a practical way of saying "thank you" to God for all the blessings we have enjoyed during our lives. It enables us to make a lasting contribution to our Church family and helps secure the work of the Church for future generations. The Bible challenges us to be careful stewards of all that God has given to us. Many Christians today follow St Paul's advice in 1 Corinthians 16:2 and give a regular proportion of their income to the Church. That principle can be extended to cover what we will give back to God when we have no further earthly use for it. Giving a proportion of· your estate is called a "residuary legacy". Gifts made to the Church and other charities are exempt from inheritance tax, and are deducted from the value of your estate before in-heritance tax liability is calculated.

Over the centuries, generous Church members have left gifts to their local churches in their wills. These gifts have often been transformational in helping their parish in its mission and in continuing to play its part in the unfolding Christian story of our country.

St Hilda's recently received a legacy of £42,000 which could only be used on the church building. After some careful planing we install PV electric generation units on the south roof. These units which cost over £32,000 to install will give free electric to the church for the next 25 years. Any excess generated electric is sold to the electrical generation board and over the first 30 months we have paid back into the legacy £10,000 from these sales. So that future generations can benefit from this generous gift. Other legacies  will provide the initial fundings for other far reaching projects concerning our ongoing mission to proclaim the gospel. These gifts can also be used to unlock the generosity of others, both individual donors and trust funds.

Another church used a legacy to employ a children's and youth worker to work with local youngsters. Having someone dedicated to this area of work made a real difference to their ministry with young people. Yet a third parish was left with a gift of £700. This enabled the purchase of a new bible for the lectern in a more modern translation and a complete set of pew bibles in the same translation. A further 100 bibles were sent to Ethiopia as the PCC knew that would fit with the donor's wishes.

All these gifts have provided an ongoing opportunity to develop parish mission, as well as creating a lasting memorial for those who gave them. Leaving a gift in your will could make a real difference to the future life of your church.

Out of date wills (e.g. old addresses, missing beneficiaries) can cause unnecessary complications, distress and costs for the surviving family and friends. A new will can be made at any time with a solicitor, and shouldn't cost much. It may be tempting to write a will yourself, but home-made wills can be dangerous, and leave your loved ones with problems. A will made with a solicitor is far more reliable.

There is a free pack available to help you prepare to make a will, including a guide explaining some of the terms used in writing a will. This can be ordered from:

The Church of England's Legacy In-formation Line: 08445 870875 (A Local Number). OR by writing to: The National Stewardship Officer, Church House, Great Smith Street, LONDON, SW1P 3NZ The contents of the pack can also be downloaded from: www.churchlegacy.org.uk