Church Councils may wish to provide some guidance to members considering leaving a bequest to the congregation. A bequest can take the form of money, property, items of value and also stocks and shares.
Some general guidance could include;
• the requirement to make a valid will.
• clear wording about the recipient (for example the congregation’s name and location – there are a multitude of ‘St Pauls’ congregations across the LCANZ).
• a general mission or ministry purpose so that if a particular mission, ministry or activity of the congregation is wound down the bequest can still be used for other agreed purposes. Similarly the congregation might find they have been funded for a piece of equipment twice.
• a general gift to be directed towards the areas of greatest need.
It is important that the wishes of the testator are respected and honoured. The family and loved ones of the testator should always come first. Encourage members to speak to family about money or other items of value being directed to the congregation.
Whatever the purpose of the gift and whatever the amount, every gift should be treated with diligence and respect. If an item is not monetary but requires a transaction to realise it’s value there may be tax or other implications associated so seek appropriate advice.
Members are not obliged in any way to communicate their plans but prior knowledge can help Church Council to plan more confidently for the future. More importantly, some prior discussion also provides an opportunity to thank the member personally for their generous support.
See more information in the District guidance to members regarding donations and bequests to the District. Download HERE