The Church of God, a Worldwide Association, Inc. (“Church”) regularly receives requests for information from members or supporters who wish to remember the Church in their wills, estate plans, gift plans, life insurance policies, or other estate planning devices. An estate donation to the Church enables you to leave a lasting legacy of sharing the gospel message with others after your death. Charitable donations are often included in a person’s estate plan and can take a variety of forms.
The Church strongly encourages potential donors to obtain independent legal and accounting advice (as applicable) relative to their personal financial objectives and estate plan goals. This article should not be understood as legal or accounting advice.
One way to make an estate donation is by designating it through a will (more formally known as a “last will and testament”). Generally, in a will you declare how your property will be distributed to your beneficiaries upon your death. Each will is unique and must be structured to ﬁt the needs and estate plans of the donor, while complying with the laws of the state, province or nation relevant to the donor’s estate plan.
We strongly recommend consulting with a legal professional, and perhaps other professionals such as an accountant or financial planner, in drafting your will, estate plan, or other documents such as various types of trusts. This will help you feel more assured that your final wishes will be honored.
After considering the needs of your family and loved ones, if you choose to include the Church as a beneficiary in your will, please use the Church’s legal, proper name: “Church of God, a Worldwide Association, Inc.” For purposes of the Church receiving your gift without unnecessary complications, please do not use an abbreviation, such as “COGWA” or “Church of God, aWA.”
Here are other considerations to keep in mind:
- It is important that you independently make your own estate planning decisions. For ethical reasons, and to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, the Church generally cannot become involved in the details of a donor’s estate planning. While there are several reasons for this, one important reason is that the Church wants to see your genuine wishes honored in regard to your estate plan. One of the most helpful things the Church can do concerning your estate planning is refrain from becoming involved in the details.
- While the way in which you choose to make a gift is an independent decision that you should make, designating it as an “unrestricted” gift or bequest provides important advantages to the Church in administering it. Making it “unrestricted” permits the Church to use your gift where the need is greatest. This ﬂexibility allows the Church to respond to changing needs as they arise. On the other hand, the wishes of the donor are important to the Church, and we will do our utmost to honor and properly act upon the donor’s wishes if the gift is designated for a specific purpose.
- In the history of the Church of God, individuals have made planned gifts in a variety of manners. Not all gifts to the Church come by way of a last will and testament; some gifts can be effectively made outside of what is known as “probate.” (“Probate” generally refers to the process by which a court formally administers the instructions contained within a will.) We encourage donors to discuss probate and nonprobate alternatives with their lawyer. For example, subject to applicable law in your state or country, another way to give a gift to the Church may be to set up a “payable on death” (POD) account for money in a bank account or a “transfer on death” (TOD) account if funds are in a brokerage account. These options may or may not be best for your situation, and the Church strongly recommends that you get proper and independent guidance.
- A comprehensive outline of estate planning mechanisms is beyond the scope of this article, and there are many options that our donors have utilized. For example, another alternative is to make a gift to the Church by designating the Church as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy. Still another method is to designate the Church as a beneficiary of a trust.
- If you choose to donate a house or other real estate to the Church, it is particularly important that you consult with a competent lawyer, as these transactions tend to involve special considerations.
The correct information for identifying the Church as a beneficiary is as follows:
Church of God, a Worldwide Association, Inc.
3701 Medical Center Drive
McKinney, TX 75069
Thank you for supporting the sharing of the gospel message now and, if you so choose, after your death through planned giving.