25 Ways to Increase Effectiveness of Leaving an Inheritance

25 Ways to Effectively Leave an Inheritance

25 Ways to Leave an Effective Inheritance

How to Control From the Grave

Everyone who has a will – or any type of estate plan – “controls” from the grave. It is not a matter of whether a person with a plan will do so, it is only a matter of the extent to which such control will happen.

Some things to consider:

  • Your children and grandchildren are living in a new environment with pressures you and I never dreamed of experiencing.
  • How did our parents live relative to money and possessions? They lived through the Depression and World War II. The scraped, saved, avoided debt and put a passel of children through college.
  • We all started out with relatively modest means, even with the advantages given to us by our parents that they never had. We learned and profited from our hardships. In fact, we even look back on them with some fond memories.

With all this in mind, why do we want to deny our children and grandchildren the opportunities and lessons that benefited us so much?

How does God treat His own children? He allows them to go through hardship. 1 Peter 4:12-13 says, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad, for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.”  1 Peter 5:10 says, “In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” In James 1:2-4, we read, “Dear brothers and sisters, when trouble of any kind comes your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy; for when your faith is tested your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong and complete and in need of nothing.”

In Matthew 6, where Christ spends so much time talking to us about material possessions and warning us not to store up treasures on earth, He goes on to say very clearly that “No one can serve two masters, for you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”

Therefore, I would challenge you not to make it easy for your children and grandchildren. Do not start them off with the “bad” half of the equation. In other words, do not give them so much money or put it in their possession in such a way that they will love the one (money) and hate the other (God).

Since, for most of us, our grandchildren (and certainly our great grandchildren) are not really going to know us very well, nor have any idea what we stand for. Be prepared to give a well-thought-out answer to God when he asks you, “What did you do with the assets I entrusted to you?” If your answer to him is “Well, I left it all to my grandchildren” you might hear him say,

“Well, that is interesting. Your granddaughter is an attorney with the ACLU and has been using your money to fight to remove my name from all public view. Your grandson has not had a job for years, and he is using the money for himself and his friends to live a life of debauchery.”

Why “roll the dice?” Why not do some creative thinking “outside the box?”

Here are some ideas to leave an effective inheritance:
  1. Limit what you give to children and grandchildren to a specific amount.
  2. Provide for their health, welfare and support in a way that will not be so much as to discourage them from having gainful employment, but will be enough to help them handle dire emergencies. Provision can also be made for their wedding, or to enable them to start a business.
  3. Use a Spendthrift Trust where they do not have an absolute right to money, but it can be withheld if they turn out to be “spendthrifts.” This type of trust will also protect their money from creditors, and in divorce situations.
  4. Use a Special Needs Trust for special needs children and grandchildren so the money will absolutely go for the purposes intended.
  5. Choose your trustee carefully and always have accountability. If you choose an individual, make sure there are at least two individuals serving as trustees.
  6. Set up a committee* to help apply the standards you put in your trust, and to be the judge as to when distributions are made (friends, pastors, church leaders, etc.).
  7. Require six months of service abroad with a mission organization (approved by the committee), working with the poor. Stipulate that the service be done by the time they are 23 years of age in order for them to receive a distribution of, as an example, $50,000. If they do not go on the trip, they do not get the money; it will instead go to a charity.
  8. If they are married with children and cannot spend six months abroad, require three (or more) two-week missions trips for their vacations in order to receive money.
  9. If you are paying for your grandchildren’s education, pay the cost if the grandchild attends a Christian college.
  10. As an alternative, if the grandchild attends a secular college, require that the grandchild present a plan to the committee as to how that grandchild will witness for Jesus Christ on campus. Then, each quarter an update must be given to the committee in order to continue to receive the benefits.
  11. Require that the grandchild serve on evangelical mission trips during vacations (with an approved team) to receive a distribution from the trust.
  12. Distribute to the grandchild three times what he or she could have made on a summer job if they spend their summer with a mission organization in an undeveloped country.
  13. Buy the grandchild a car if he or she works at church with a Youth Director; and/or mentors the child of a single mom; and/or cares for the yard of an elderly person at church.
  14. For every dollar earned, shown on their W-2 at the end of the year, give them $5,00. For every dollar saved by the end of the year, give another $5.00 into their savings. And then give them an equal amount to be given away to further the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
  15. Match their down payment on a house $9.00 for every $1.00.
  16. If they save to buy their car and don’t finance it, match their payment $3.00 for every $1.00 saved (this will help them buy a safer car, too).
  17. If they go a year without using a credit card, reward them with a distribution from the trust.
  18. Pay for graduate seminary or Bible school beyond their basic college education.
  19. Pay one-half of their support if they are employed by an approved ministry, so they only have to raise the other one-half.
  20. Require them to go through a Crown Ministries’ course to receive a distribution. Then, require them to teach a Crown Ministries’ course in order to receive another distribution.
  21. Give them money every year to give away to purposes to which God has laid on your heart. For instance, if God has put on your heart to provide a Christian camp experience to inner city kids, let your grandchildren choose the kids and Christian camp.
  22. Pay for an annual vacation where all the children and/or grandchildren come together at a common place for fellowship and spiritual nourishment and pay for a Christian counselor to be there as well.
  23. Put some of your money into a Private Foundation, Supporting Organization, or Donor Advised Fund, and then from this vehicle (any of which can carry the designation of “foundation”):
    • Pay for mission trips for your grandchildren to bring reports back to the Foundation. These trips must be strictly for mission purposes, with no element of vacation or sightseeing. Recent changes in the law require that a Foundation, which is a Supporting Organization or Donor Advised Fund, must pay trip expenses directly, rather than reimbursing the grandchildren for those expenses.
    • Have your grandchildren find and bring Bibles to an unreached tribe or village.
    • Pay your grandchild a salary from the private foundation, so they can work for a year at a ministry the Foundation wants to support with grants.
    • Involve them in reviewing all grant applications and the making of grants from the Foundation.
    • Require them to do the investigation for ministries that have made applications and report back to the Board.
    • Require that they make “x” number of grants each year from the Foundation that are anonymous.
    • Implement a “sunset clause” in the Foundation, so that at some future point in time, the assets of the Foundation will be totally distributed.
  24. Require them to read certain Christian books and biographies, and make reports to the committee, for which they receive financial rewards.
  25. Provide a fund from which they can make contributions to the church in which they are involved, provided the committee approves.

There are many more ideas that can be implemented with little effort. I would challenge you to get together with some of your Christian friends and “brainstorm” on this subject. Many of the items listed above may be too detailed or cumbersome for your temperament, but remember, these are only ideas. They are actually meant to cause you to think more about simply “dumping” a lot of money on a grandchild who may, or may not, use the money in a way that you would approve of were you still living.

*The committee you choose to help administer these ideas can be your trustees, family, pastor, friends, employees or Directors of a Christian Community Foundation, or a combination thereof.


Written by Terry Parker, Co-Founder of National Christian Foundation, for Focus on the Family. ©2018