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Crafting Your Lifetime Plan for Giving

Foreword by Whitman H. Brisky, Esq.

I had a client approach me recently telling me that she wanted to make sure that after she passed away, a portion of her estate would be used to support Christian causes and ministries, including her longtime congregation. While she had this intention, she didn’t know how that could be put into effect. So I suggested that she get started on her lifetime plan for giving; an overall estate plan including a living trust, will, and powers of attorney.

The first step in that process would be for her to make a list of her assets and liabilities, the people she would like to receive a portion of her estate such as children and grandchildren, and those people she trusted to make decisions for her if she could not make them herself and administer her estate after her passing. The next step was to list the ministries and causes she wanted to benefit. I provided her with a convenient form for her to give me this information which you can download for free here.

The client then met with me to go through the information she provided, answer any questions, and talk through how she wanted her estate divided upon her death. At that time we could also discuss her family situation and whether, for example, any of her children should receive his or her portion in trust rather than outright.

From this information I was then able to prepare draft documents. The powers of attorney for healthcare and property are crucial for everyone to have to avoid needing a guardianship should a person become unable to make his or her own decisions. A will insures that anything that had not be placed in trust during the client’s lifetime would end up there through the will. And finally, a living trust contains detailed instructions on how everything is to be done upon death. Once she reviewed these documents and any final changes were made, she came back into the office to execute the documents and put them into effect. When this process had been completed, the client felt comfortable that her wishes would take effect after she had passed away.

A lifetime plan for giving has many advantages over gifts you might leave in your will. There are many reasons to craft your lifetime giving plan, many of which are outlined in this free customizable legal guide.

If you need assistance crafting your lifetime plan for giving, fill out the form below and give us a call at 312-726-1243 or contact us at


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