Estate Gifts: Don’t Get Too Involved
Churches should never recommend a lawyer or a financial planner.
Estate Gifts: Don’t Get Too Involved
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The following excerpt about wills and estate planning is adapted from “Encouraging Estate Gifts in Your Church” in the June 2018 issue of Church Finance Today.

Churches can get into trouble if they get too involved in the process of procuring a gift or bequest. That’s especially true if they recommend that church members work with a specific lawyer or a financial planner with ties to the church. “There have been cases where the attorney who drafted the will was a member of the church that received the gift,” said attorney Mary Ellen Willman, a partner with Baltimore-based Whiteford, Taylor & Preston LLP. “That’s obviously not a good idea.”

Churches and pastors also should avoid having any involvement in drafting a will or a bequest for church members. Again, that includes recommending a specific lawyer or advisor for a church member to work with. “The church doesn’t want to even give the appearance of procuring the documents that leave the church money,” stressed Candie Deming, also an attorney with Whiteford, Taylor & Preston.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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