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Proposal Template

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Proposal Template

  1. 1. Dear [insert name of donor], Thank you for taking the time to complete the first part of your Lifetime Plan for GivingTM. In it, you described the people that God has placed in your life, the resources that He has blessed you with, your goals for your Lifetime Plan for GivingTM, and the names of the planners that can help. This is a proposal for your Lifetime Plan for GivingTM based on the information you provided. Please review this information and ask God to reveal the plan He has in mind for you. If you have any questions, or if you are ready to proceed, please let me know. God's blessings as you prayerfully consider how best to do His will. In Christ, Gift Planning Counselor
  2. 2. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving Your Lifetime Plan for Giving… …is a Gift Planning Process combined into four parts. These parts are designed to guide and educate you through the process of Christian estate and gift planning. Part I: The Discovery ►Part II: The Proposals◄ Part III: The Summary Part IV: The Implementation Proposal Index: • Your Lifetime Plan for GivingTM Proposal 1. Proposal Overview This section outlines your wishes and objectives discovered from the interview and survey. 2. Plan Diagrams These illustrations provide our recommendations for your Lifetime Plan for GivingTM at a glance. 3. Proposals for Implementing Your Plan This section provides a text summary of specific gift planning opportunities and general estate planning issues for you to consider as part of your Lifetime Plan for GivingTM. • Christian Estate Planning General Information 1. Ways to Transfer Your Property 2. Making Decisions when You Cannot 3. Transferring Property to Minor Children 4. Tax Costs to Consider when Giving Your Property 5. Tax Planning when Transferring Your Property 6. Caring for the Earthly Body God has given You 7. Information to Help You Work with Your Attorney 2
  3. 3. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving Your Lifetime Plan for GivingTM Proposal Here is an overview of what you would like your Lifetime Plan for GivingTM to look like based on the information you shared in the survey and interview: [from page 10 of the Survey, Stewardship Goals] While I am living I want to: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. When God calls me home I wish to: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 3
  4. 4. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving Your Lifetime Plan for GivingTM Diagram for Family and Lord’s Work [insert name of donor] $ [insert total estate value found on pages 6-8 of Part I] To put in place a Lifetime Plan for GivingTM that accomplishes the above, consider this plan for your property as follows: [estate distribution method] Pension Plans Real Estate Securities Other Assets Life Insurance and other IRAs Remainder of estate at death of last spouse Pour-over Charitable Unitrust Charitable Unitrust Heirs Receive Ministry Receives Immediately: Immediately: IRS Receives Paid over Twenty Year Term ¹: At End of Twenty Year Term¹: * Charitable trust payments are taxable. 4 ¹ Amount is an estimate for illustrative purposes only. See attached Crescendo illustration for more detail.
  5. 5. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving Proposals for Implementing Your Lifetime Plan for GivingTM Please discuss these proposals with your family and prayerfully ask for God’s guidance in building the plan He has placed in your heart. I recommended specific proposals related to the charitable gift portion of your plan. I also included general proposals for purposes of your entire estate plan. Please take time to consider the proposals and which ones you would like to include as part of your Lifetime Plan for Giving. If you have any questions about a proposal, please let me know. When you have reached a decision on these proposals I will prepare a summary of the specific charitable gift proposals for your attorney to review. In addition, I will include the general estate planning issues that we have discussed. These summaries will help the attorney understand your goals for giving to ministry and family. This should help the attorney advise you on implementing your entire estate plan. The LCMS Foundation does not provide estate planning or legal advice, and does not provide legal documents other than charitable trust and endowment agreements managed by the Foundation. However, the LCMS Foundation will continue to be available to help you and your advisors as needed. Ideas for Today [Regular Giving] Continue to include regular giving in your plans. Continue to prayerfully consider how you can respond to God’s call to us to be faithful stewards and to give of our time, talent, and treasure. You may also want to consider talking with the Foundation about creative ways to accomplish your regular giving, including using non-cash gifts or making one large contribution that can make distributions over time. [Intervivos Donor advised fund] Donor Advised Fund. You have indicated that you would like to make a significant gift to ministry while maintaining involvement in how the gift is used. Consider establishing a Donor Advised Fund and funding it with a gift of your [insert property]. The gift will be held in a segregated account and invested. You will receive reports regarding the fund and can make recommendations as to the ministries to benefit as needs arise. I have enclosed a brochure with more information on how a Donor Advised Fund can work for you. [Intervivos Gift annuity] Charitable Gift Annuity. Consider transferring your [property description] to the LCMS Foundation to fund a charitable gift annuity. The gift annuity can provide tax savings today, fixed cash payments to you, and much needed support for ministry in the future. The Foundation can run detailed illustrations to give you a better idea of how this might work in your particular situation. [Intervivos CRT] Charitable Trust. Consider transferring your [property description] to a charitable remainder trust. The trust can provide tax savings today, a stream of income to you and your family, and much needed support for ministry in the future. The Foundation can run detailed illustrations to give you a better idea of how this might work in your particular situation. 5
  6. 6. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving Ideas for Tomorrow [Bequest amount - adopt ministry as child] Adopt the Lord’s work as one of your children. You have indicated that you would like to support the Lord’s work with a portion of your estate. Consider adopting the Lord’s work as one of your children to determine the level of support. You have [insert number of children], so that would mean a gift to the Lord’s work of 1/[insert number of children + 1] of your estate. [Bequest amount - percentage of estate] Remembering the Lord’s work. You have indicated that you would like to support the Lord’s work with a portion of your estate. Consider a gift of [insert percentage]% from your estate. [bequest - letter of direction] Distributing your gift by letter of direction. Consider using the LCMS Foundation to distribute your ministry gifts. You can do this by designating your gift to the LCMS Foundation with a request that it be distributed in accordance with your most recent letter of direction on file at the Foundation. In the letter of direction, you list the ministries and their respective portion of the gift. (A sample is attached.) This allows you to keep the list of ministries current without having to update your Will or Living Trust every time you wish to change the ministries. Also, the person handling your estate only has to deal with one ministry rather than several. This can be especially helpful when the person is not familiar with the LCMS and the ministries may have changed names or addresses [Pour-over CRT] Charitable Trust. You have indicated that you would like your children to receive a portion of their inheritance over a period of time, rather than in a lump sum, and make a gift to the Lord’s work. Consider using a charitable trust to accomplish these goals. You can establish the trust today with the funding to come from your estate. The trust can pay to your family for a period of time. After the trust terminates it distributes to ministries that you designate. I can run detailed illustrations to give you a better idea of how this might work for you. [Testamentary Donor advised fund] Donor Advised Fund. You have indicated that you would like to involve your children in giving to ministry when God calls you home. Consider establishing a Donor Advised Fund and funding it with a gift from your estate. The gift will be held in a segregated account and invested. Your children will receive reports regarding the fund and can make recommendations as to the ministries to benefit as needs arise. I have enclosed a brochure with more information on how a Donor Advised Fund can work for you. [Christian Preamble - include samples to donor] Christian preamble in your Will. Consider confessing your faith through the use of a Christian preamble in your Will. A Christian preamble can be a powerful witness to your family and others after you have gone to 6
  7. 7. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving heaven. A personal statement of your faith, and specific encouragement and counsel to your family, has the greatest effect. I am including samples of Christian preambles to give you an idea of what it might look like. [Durable power of attorney for health care- if do not have one] Health Care. You should have a plan in place for determining the type of health care you would like to receive if you are no longer able to make those decisions yourself. With the help of your attorney, consider establishing a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to appoint someone as your agent to make health care decisions in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod Sanctity of Human Life Committee suggests that you consider using a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care rather than other types of health care directives like a living will. It is important that the person you appoint share the same beliefs and that you direct him or her to consult your family and pastor before making decisions. The general estate planning section contains more information on this very important topic. Please also consider talking to your advisors about long-term health care insurance. [Durable power of attorney for financial affairs - no previous poa] Ensuring continuity for the handling of your financial affairs. You should have a plan a place for carrying your financial affairs should you ever be unable to do so yourself. A Power of Attorney for financial affairs can be used to authorize someone to handle these matters. Your attorney will likely prepare one as part of your estate plan. Please consider asking your attorney to include a specific instruction that your agent can make charitable gifts. Without this authority, your agent may not have the authority to continue the ministry gifts that you normally make or make significant gift decisions for tax planning purposes. [Durable power of attorney for financial affairs - already has but may need specific gifting power] Durable Power of Attorney for financial affairs with gifting power. You already have a Durable Power of Attorney for financial affairs which enables the person you have appointed to handle your financial affairs in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. Please consider reviewing your power or attorney agreement and/or discussing with your attorney whether the agreement gives your agent the power to make charitable gifts. Without this authority, your agent may not have the authority to continue the ministry gifts that you normally make or make significant gift decisions for tax planning purposes. [Disaster clause] Common disaster. Consider asking your attorney to include in your will or living trust an instruction that, in the unlikely event that you have no family remaining at the time of your death, your entire estate is to be distributed to the Lord’s work rather than to remote family members or the state. Ideas for Today, Tomorrow & Forever [intervivos endowment] 7
  8. 8. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving Provide on-going support to ministry by establishing an endowment fund. You have indicated that you would like to establish a legacy gift to provide on-going support for the Lord’s work. Consider establishing an endowment fund and funding it with a gift of your [insert property]. The endowment will be a lasting expression of your faith and provide on-going support to the ministries you designate. The Foundation can prepare an endowment agreement that states the terms of the fund and the ministries you would like to support. [testamentary endowment – directly from estate ] Provide on-going support to ministry by establishing an endowment fund. You have indicated that you would like to establish a legacy gift to provide on-going support for the Lord’s work. Consider establishing an endowment fund and funding it with a gift from your estate. The endowment will be a lasting expression of your faith and provide on-going support to the ministries you designate. The Foundation can prepare an endowment agreement that states the terms of the fund and the ministries you would like to support. [testamentary endowment – remainder ministry of crt ] Provide on-going support to ministry by establishing an endowment fund. You have indicated that you would like to establish a legacy gift to provide on-going support for the Lord’s work. Consider establishing an endowment fund as the remainder ministry of your charitable remainder trust. The endowment will be a lasting expression of your faith and provide on-going support to the ministries you designate. The Foundation can prepare an endowment agreement that states the terms of the fund and the ministries you would like to support. Choosing the Right Asset Choosing the right assets for your lifetime gifts to ministry. Generally, appreciated assets, like stock or real property, are the best assets to gift for tax purposes. In addition to the charitable income tax deduction for the gift, tax on the appreciation (capital gain) may be completely or partially avoided. You should discuss your particular situation with your financial/tax advisor(s). If you would like transfer information for non- cash assets, please let the Foundation know. Choosing the right assets for your testamentary gift to ministry. In general, your family members and loved ones will not pay federal income tax on property that they receive from your estate. However, there are certain kinds of property that will cause the individuals you name as recipients to pay income taxes. In contrast, if this kind of property were gifted to charity, the charity would not pay taxes. A common example of this kind of property is most retirement accounts. So, an important part of your estate plan is determining which assets should be used for each gift. You should discuss the tax consequences of the assets in your estate with your attorney when you create your plan and consider funding gifts to ministry from your taxable assets. 8
  9. 9. Christian Estate Planning General Information 1. Ways to Transfer Your Property One of the goals of an estate plan is determining how you want your property distributed after the Lord calls you home to heaven. There are many methods for distributing your property. The method that is right for you will depend on your situation and your personal preferences. The most common methods for distributing your estate are: Last Will and Testament You should have a written Will that conforms to the laws of the state in which you are living. You can change your Will any time as long as you have the mental capacity. In addition to providing directions on how you want your property distributed, your Will should name a person in charge of the distribution. This person is usually called a personal representative or executor. It is important that you select someone that is trustworthy to be the executor of your estate. Your executor has no authority to deal with your property until you go home to heaven. The process for carrying out the directions in your Will is called probate. Probate is the court supervision and authorization of the transfer of your property. A will can include directions for the level of court supervision desired. At a minimum, the court will need to approve the validity of the will, the appointment of the executor, and the final settlement of your estate. All property that is titled in your name when the Lord calls you home will go through probate. If you do not have a valid Will, the property that is titled in your name will be distributed according to the succession laws of your state. Revocable Living Trust A Will is often the primary method for distributing an estate. However, in recent years revocable living trusts have gained in popularity. Unlike a Will, a revocable living trust can control ownership and use of your property during your life. The trust terms are stated in writing and generally give you, as trustee, unlimited discretion to deal with the assets. Assets can be transferred to the trust as soon as it is established. The trust is called a revocable living trust because during your life you are the trustee and have the unlimited right to control the assets and change the terms of the trust. The trust should also provide what is to happen when you are no longer able to act as trustee and who will take over as successor trustee. The
  10. 10. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving same directions that can be put in a Will for distributing your assets when the Lord calls you home can be placed in a living trust. A revocable living trust can replace a Will as the primary estate planning document. But it is still necessary to have a Will to ensure that any assets that are not in the trust, whether inadvertently or not, are distributed the way you intend. One of the potential advantages of a revocable living trust is privacy. Probate records are public. Assets that are transferred to your living trust during your life will not go through probate because they are not titled in your name. Generally, your successor trustee will be able to distribute the assets of the living trust according to your directions in the trust agreement without any court supervision. Another potential advantage of a living trust is the ability to administer your assets should you lose the mental capacity to do so yourself. The trust should provide specific directions for who is to take over as successor trustee in the event of your incapacity and how they are to administer the trust. This can be easier administratively than using other methods, like a Power-of-Attorney. Costs are an important consideration when determining whether to use a living trust. In some situations it will be more costly to use a revocable living trust and in other situations it will save money. With a living trust there is added cost during life to establish and administer the trust. Less court supervision at death may more than make up for these costs. The type and location of your property should be considered when analyzing the relevant costs of each method. Tax savings are not a factor when determining whether to use a revocable living trust. The same tax planning advantages are available whether a Will or a living trust is the primary estate planning document. Beneficiary or Payable-on-death Designations Some assets can be distributed at death through a beneficiary or payable-on-death designation. Life insurance, retirement plans, bank accounts, stocks and other investment accounts are the most common assets for which beneficiary designations are permitted. In some states, even assets like real estate can be transferred through a beneficiary designation. Like a Will, a beneficiary designation can be changed at any time and transfers no immediate property interest. A secondary beneficiary should be named in the event the primary beneficiary is no longer living. Co-ownership Another method for distributing your property is to have co-ownership. The different types of co-ownership are determined by state law. Some types of co-ownership include rights of survivorship. This is usually between husband and wife On the death of one of the co-owners, his or her ownership is automatically terminated and the property is owned entirely by the survivor. 10
  11. 11. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving Other forms of co-ownership do not include survivorship rights. When one co-owner dies, the property does not automatically pass to the other co-owner. Instead, the portion of the property that is owned by the co-owner is distributed according to his or her will like any other asset. Co-ownership transfers an immediate ownership interest to the other co-owner. It is wise to consult your attorney regarding the implications before creating a co-ownership interest. 2. Making Decisions when You Cannot Another goal of an estate plan is to put a plan in place for managing your property in the event you lose the mental capacity to handle it yourself. Some of the ways to do this are: Conservator A conservator is a person appointed by a court to administer your financial affairs. The conservator is supervised by, and reports to, the court. It is the most costly and time consuming way to deal with your property when you no longer have capacity. A conservator is only necessary when you have provided no other method for managing your property. Power-of-Attorney for Financial Affairs A Power-of-Attorney for financial affairs is the most common method for managing property during incapacity. A Power-of-Attorney for financial affairs is a document that gives your authorization to someone else to manage your property. The person you select is called your agent. Successor agents can be named in the event that someone is unable or unwilling to serve. It is important that you select agents that are trustworthy. The Power-of-Attorney should clearly identify the timing and scope of the authorization given to the agent. The authority to handle your financial affairs can be given immediately or only in the event that you lack mental capacity. It can cover virtually all financial matters, or be limited to only certain transactions. Revocable Living Trust A Revocable Living Trust provides for management of your property in the event you lose mental capacity because you can name a successor trustee in the trust agreement. The successor trustee has no authority to deal with the trust assets until you lose capacity and are no longer trustee yourself. The successor trustee usually has no authority to change the trust and can only follow the terms of the trust agreement as you provided. Even if you have a revocable living trust, a Power-of-Attorney is still recommended to handle property that may not be in the trust. 11
  12. 12. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving 3. Transferring Property to Minor Children Minors may lack capacity by law to manage property. It is important to consider this when transferring a significant amount of property to a minor. State law determines minority. In most states, a child under the age of 18 is considered a minor for purposes of managing property. Parents are natural guardians of their children and a minor child is often able to hold and manage property with their assistance. Other methods available for assisting minors with managing property are: Custodians Most states allow you to transfer property to a custodian for the benefit of a minor. The custodian is responsible for administering the property for the minor’s benefit. When the child reaches the age of majority the custodianship terminates and the property is given to the child. The advantages of a custodianship are the simplicity in setting up and administering, the flexibility it gives the custodian, and the fact that there are little or no costs. The custodian can be an individual, like a family member. It is important that a trustworthy custodian be named because there is no court supervision. Minor’s Trusts A common method for transferring a significant amount of property to a minor is to place it in trust for the minor’s benefit. Often the trust will place restrictions on its use, such as for education or health care. When the child reaches a certain age the trust can terminate and distribute everything outright to the then adult child. A trust is more costly to administer than a custodianship, but allows greater control on how the property is used. 4. Tax Costs to Consider when Giving Your Property Tax costs can greatly reduce a gift or inheritance. Some of the taxes that may apply are: Gift and estate taxes The federal government, and some state governments, assess a tax when property is transferred as a gift. If the transfer occurs during life it is called a gift tax. If the transfer occurs at death it is called an estate tax. Most transfers between spouses qualify for an unlimited gift and estate tax deduction. That means that no tax liability is incurred on these transfers. In addition, small transfers during life are excluded from the gift tax. For example, in 2008, total gifts to a person of less than $12,000 are excluded from federal gift tax. This amount is called the annual exclusion and the amount can change because it is indexed to inflation. Gifts that exceed the annual exclusion require the filing of a federal gift tax return, although federal gift tax is not owed until total lifetime gifts exceed $1,000,000 (for 2008). 12
  13. 13. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving Like federal gift tax, federal estate tax is also not owed unless your estate is over a large amount. In 2008, estates are not subject to federal estate tax unless the estate is over $2,000,000. However, all gifts that were made during life (other than those that are under the $12,000 annual exclusion amount) are added back to the estate to determine whether the estate is subject to federal estate taxes. In addition to the federal estate tax, some states also impose a state estate tax. Although most state estate tax systems work similar to the federal estate tax system, each state has its own rates and exemption amounts. Other states impose an inheritance tax instead of an estate tax. An inheritance tax is a tax on the receipt of the gift rather than the transfer. Liability for inheritance tax generally starts at a much lower amount than estate taxes because it looks individually at what each person receives rather than the total amount being given away. Rates may also vary depending on the degree of relationship to the giver. It is always wise to check with your tax or legal advisor regarding the federal and state tax consequences when planning a significant gift. Income Tax Consequences from the Transfer of Property Before the income tax consequences are discussed, it is important to understand a concept called “basis.” “Basis” is an accounting term that refers to the value of property for determining gain or loss of the property if the property is sold or transferred. Most commonly, basis is the price you paid for the property. So for example, if you paid $100 for 10 shares of stock, your “basis” in the stock is $100. If you give property away during life, the person takes the same basis that you had. Continuing with the example above, if during life you gave the stock away to your son, your son also has a basis in the stock of $100. If your son sold the stock for $300, he would have gain of $200, which would be subject to income taxes. Most assets that you transfer at you death receive a “stepped-up” basis. A “stepped-up basis” is the fair market value of the assets at the time of death. The stepped-up basis is one of the few tax rules where tax is completely avoided on any appreciation in the property. In the same example, if the stock was part of your estate which was left to your son, your son would have a “stepped-up” basis in the stock equal to the fair market value. If the fair market value was $300 and your son immediately sold the stock for $300, there is no gain and so no income tax consequences. Some assets, like savings bonds and retirement plans (other than Roth IRAs), do not get a stepped-up basis when transferred at death. If these assets are transferred to family members or loved ones, the new owners will have income consequences from receiving the property. Part of your estate plan is determining who gets what property. In some case, the income tax consequences of certain pieces of property may play a role in these decisions. 5. Tax Planning when Transferring Your Property Proper planning can often reduce or eliminate tax costs. Some of the most common tax planning methods when giving property are: Charitable gifts 13
  14. 14. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving In addition to the charitable work that it supports, a gift to a qualified charity also entitles the giver to various tax savings. The most well known benefit is a charitable tax deduction. Depending on the gift, the giver may be eligible for a tax deduction to offset income, gift or estate tax liability. Another benefit is the avoidance of realized gain. Charities are exempt from taxation so it is best to make your charitable gifts from assets that would carry tax liability if given to someone else or sold yourself. For example, as mentioned earlier, if your children were the beneficiaries of your retirement plan, your children will have income tax consequences from the transfer. However, if a charity is a beneficiary of the retirement plan, the income tax consequences are avoided because the charity is not subject to income taxes. So, sometimes it is possible to minimize taxes owed by simply reshuffling which parties, your family or charity, receive particular assets. Annual exclusion gifts Gifts that are less than the annual exclusion amount ($12,000 for 2008) escape federal gift and estate tax. If you have a large estate where these taxes are a concern, it may be wise to begin distributing your estate to your family today. Spouses are each entitled to their own annual exclusion. That means that married couples have double the annual exclusion to use if they elect to treat all gifts as coming half from each spouse. This may require the filing of a federal gift tax return in order to elect the gift split. Federal Estate Tax Planning As discussed above, federal estate tax is not a concern for most people. This is because federal estate tax is not due unless your estate is over a specific amount. This amount is referred to as the “exclusion amount,” i.e., the amount excluded from federal estate tax. In 2008, the exclusion amount is $2,000,000. Every taxpayer has an estate tax exclusion amount. If your estate is over the limit, there are several ways to establish your plan to reduce or eliminate estate taxes. One of these methods applies to married couples. As mentioned above, each spouse is entitled to their own exclusion amount. However, proper planning is needed to ensure that one of their exclusions is not wasted. For example, if a couple has a combined estate of $3,000,000, both of their exclusions are sufficient to avoid estate tax liability. However, if the first spouse to die leaves everything to the surviving spouse, that exclusion is wasted. When the surviving spouse dies, he or she now has a $3,000,000 estate and the one exclusion will not be enough to avoid estate tax. The most common method for maximizing the estate tax exclusion amount for married couples is to use a by-pass trust in the estate of the first spouse to die. It is called a by-pass trust because it will by-pass inclusion in the surviving spouse’s estate. The by-pass trust is funded with as much of the first spouse’s estate tax exclusion as necessary to reduce or eliminate the estate tax in the couples’ combined estate. Often that will be equal to the estate tax exclusion amount. The surviving spouse may have access to income from the by-pass trust, some access to principal, 14
  15. 15. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving and some discretion to direct the ultimate distribution of the trust. The remainder of the estate of the first spouse is then either given outright to the surviving spouse or placed in a trust for the spouse. 6. Caring for the Earthly Body God has Given You In addition to managing the property that God has blessed you with, it is important to honor Him by caring for the earthly body that He has blessed you with. Some of the things to consider are: Advance Directives for Health Care It is important that you leave instructions for the health care treatment you wish to receive should you ever be in a condition where you are unable to communicate your wishes. Your wishes should be in writing and conform to all legal requirements for your state. The failure to address this important issue can have a lasting, negative effect on your loved ones. There are two general ways to make an advance directive. One is commonly called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. With a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, you appoint someone, like a close family member, to make the decision in your stead. A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care only authorizes the person to make these decisions when you are no longer able. It may also include a description of the type of care you desire and instruct the person that you’ve appointed to consult others, such as family members and your pastor, before making a decision. The other type of advance directive is commonly called a Living Will. A Living Will describes the type of treatment that you desire and authorizes the attending physician to proceed according to those wishes. No other consent or approval is necessary as your directions in the Living Will are sufficient for an attending physician to act. The following is a position statement on advance directives authored by the LCMS Sanctity of Human Life Committee. It includes a list of resources that provide additional information. To: The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod From: LCMS Sanctity of Human Life Committee Subject: A Statement on End-Of-Life Decisions Date: April 22, 2005 Recent events in the national headlines have initiated a dialogue among many Americans regarding end of life issues. Many LCMS clergy and laity have found themselves in the midst of this emotional debate, while sometimes struggling for charity on these various issues themselves. As Christians, we need to recognize this unique opportunity to become Christ's serving hands and to provide the needed spiritual, emotional, and physical palliative care at the end of a person's earthly life. We can consider it an honor to participate in someone else's preparation for eternal life. The LCMS Sanctity of Human Life Committee would like to suggest some helpful resources along with the following principles to guide our thoughts on these complex issues. 15
  16. 16. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving The idea of a “living will” has become almost synonymous with “Advance Medical Directive” in the minds of many. An Advance Medical Directive is any type of document that determines treatment if a person loses their ability to make those decisions. A Living Will is a type of Advance Directive, but Christians must be aware that not all living wills are created equal and distinctions need to be made. We can acknowledge the legitimacy of these Advanced Medical Directives but we must also bear in mind the problems that can arise from their abuse. Living wills can often deprive people of the important conversations that should be happening at life's end between the patient's family, medical professionals, and clergy. We cannot, unequivocally, determine beforehand our plan of care and successfully anticipate every circumstance, situation, and medical technology that might arise. Instead, every circumstance needs to be closely examined when it arises, tied closely to pastoral care and counseling, in order to determine and evaluate God-pleasing action for withholding treatment. With this in mind, the LCMS Sanctity of Human Life Committee suggests that Christians consider making use of the Health Care Durable Power of Attorney. This legal document allows someone to designate a specific person to make health care decisions for him or her if they become incapacitated. This “health care proxy” can, and should, be someone who shares the patient's values and belief system. While Christians can disagree on how ethics apply to individual cases, we can never disagree on the basic principles relative to the intrinsic value of each individual life. The Rev. Dr. Richard Eyer, in his book Holy People, Holy Lives: Law and Gospel in Bioethics, states that there is certainly a time when it is appropriate to withdraw treatment. “ No one should be required to receive treatment that is futile or burdensome,” he says, “but the word 'futile' should be taken at face value—meaning 'treatment that offers little or no benefit.'” However, treatment cannot be called futile if it sustains a God-given life (even if it is not a life someone would choose) such as food and water for a coma or brain-disabled patient. Asking, “Will this treatment benefit the life this patient has?” is a worthy question to be posed in these difficult situations. Contrast this to the question our society tempts us to ask: “Is this patient's life a beneficial one; a life worth living?” Another way to phrase the question is “Are we aiming toward life, or are we aiming toward death in our healthcare decisions?” As Christians continue to aim at upholding the value of human life, we glorify God—the designer of life. We give thanks that God has underscored the value and uniqueness of our human life (which is not diminished by age or infirmity) when He endured such pain and suffering in His death to restore eternal life to mankind. To be sure, this is a difficult and often confusing area of human existence. People have, and will continue to make mistakes in their decision-making. But Christ's death and resurrection offer forgiveness and comfort for all our decisions and actions in the past, present, and future. We can look to the cross and find relief and forgiveness for our burdened consciences and forgiveness for all sin, known and unknown. To assist pastors and laity in their healthcare decisions LCMS Life Ministries recommends the following resources: 16
  17. 17. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving • Lutherans For Life, 1-888-364-LIFE, http://www.lutheransforlife.org • LCMS Life Ministries 1-800-248-1930, http://worldrelief.lcms.org • Christian Life Resources, 1-414-774-1331, www.christianliferesources.com. • That They May Live, LCMS President's Commission on the Sanctity of Life, Booklets available free from LCMS Life Ministries. • Holy People, Holy Lives: Law and Gospel in Bioethics, Rev. Richard C. Eyer, (Concordia Publishing House.) • Bioethics: A Primer for Christians, 2nd ed. Rev. Dr. Gilbert Meilaender, • (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005). • Christian Care At Life's End, LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations, (Concordia Publishing House.) • Playing God: Redesigning Life, a Bible study by Rev. Dr. Robert Weise, (Concordia Publishing House.) Anatomical Gifts An anatomical gift is a donation of organs and tissues. Anyone of sound mind can make an anatomical gift, although a minor needs the consent of a parent or legal guardian. Some of the ways that you can make an anatomical gift are by indicating your intent on the back of your driver’s license or by completing a Uniform Donor Card. A will is normally not the place to make an anatomical gift because of the time that will elapse before the will is read and accepted. While the use of an attorney is not required, it is wise to discuss the method you have chosen with your attorney. You can make a gift of all or parts of your body. While it is not necessary, you can specify who is to receive the gift, such as a hospital, a school, or a specific individual. An anatomical gift will generally include any examination necessary to assure the medical acceptability of the gift. If the gift is of the entire body the body may be embalmed and used for funeral services prior to acceptance. If the gift is for specific parts, these will be removed as soon as possible after death and the remainder of the body returned to the family or next of kin for disposition. You can change your mind and decide not to make an anatomical gift at any time. No one else can legally change it, but hospitals may ask your family to consent before proceeding. It is important that you discuss your wishes with your family now to ensure that your gift can be completed. On its website, the LCMS “encourages organ donation as an act of Christian love, but this choice is entirely up to the individual and/or his or her family, and should not be a cause of guilt or regret no matter what decision is made. The Bible has nothing specific to say regarding this issue. Therefore, it is a matter of Christian freedom and personal (or family) discretion.” 17
  18. 18. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving Information to Help You Work with Your Attorney It is very important that you have the assistance of a competent attorney when planning and implementing your estate plan. It does not matter how good your plan is if it is not recognized as valid under state law. To be effective, your plan will need to be in writing and in accordance with all relevant laws. The attorney you select must be licensed in your state and preferably experienced in estate planning. When considering attorneys, you may want to ask how many years he or she has been engaged in estate planning and what percentage of the practice is devoted to estate planning. If you need help in finding an attorney, the LCMS Foundation Gift Planning Counselor will be happy to provide a list of attorneys that he or she has worked with in your area. You can also contact the local Bar Association for licensed attorneys in your area. To achieve the best result, you should give your attorney all of the facts concerning your situation and keep him or her informed of any changes. Any confidential information that you provide your attorney is privileged and cannot be divulged without your consent. Your attorney will represent you as your advocate as well as to give you advice and guidance. Your attorney should be careful to avoid anything that might compromise your best interests, unless it is with your consent. Attorneys use different methods for determining how much you will pay them. Some will offer a one-time flat fee for the service that you are requesting. Others may charge an hourly fee. You should discuss fees with your attorney at the first meeting. Your attorney should be able to give you a general idea of the total fee based on your explanation of the services you are asking him or her to perform. Some attorneys may put this in writing, often called an engagement letter, which summarizes what you are asking the attorney to do and what the charge will be for these services. Circumstances can change but your attorney should keep you informed about any changes that would cause the fees to increase significantly. Your attorney is an important part of your lifetime plan for giving. Attempting to save money on this part can frustrate your plan, incur greater costs later, and most importantly, lead to hurt feelings among your family. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22. The next step… Your Lifetime Plan for GivingTM process is organized into four parts. You have completed the second part, the proposals, which were organized and presented to you for selecting the plan that best meets your wishes and goals. 18
  19. 19. Your Lifetime Plan for Giving The third part is the summary of your Lifetime Plan for GivingTM. This is an outline which will be provided to your attorney. The assistance of your attorney is needed to implement the plan. The LCMS Foundation does not provide estate planning or legal advice, and does not provide legal documents other than charitable trust and endowment agreements managed by the Foundation. The final part is implementing your Lifetime Plan for GivingTM. Your attorney will advise you regarding your plan and prepare and review the necessary legal documents. The summary that we provide to your attorney will assist considerably in this process. The LCMS Foundation will continue to be available to help as needed, including offering our services to compare the final legal documents to your plan summarized in part three. We will assist you every step of the way. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions at any time. 19

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