Maximizing Legacy: Planning an Estate Gift through a Will or Trust

Learn about the estate planning process with Woody Webb

Woody Webb

March 6, 2024 Alumni & Friends, Giving

Planning for the future is a crucial aspect of securing your legacy and ensuring that assets are distributed according to your wishes. Estate planning through a Will or Trust is a powerful tool that provides peace of mind and facilitates the seamless transfer of assets to beneficiaries. Explore the benefits you’ll enjoy and the essential steps you should take.

Benefits of Estate Planning:

  1. Controlling and Distributing Assets:
    • Estate planning allows you to maintain control over the distribution of your assets after death. Through a Will or Trust, you provide specific instructions on how your estate should be divided among beneficiaries.
  2. Minimizing Tax Liabilities:
    • Strategic estate planning can help minimize tax implications for heirs. Utilize exemptions, deductions and other tax planning strategies to reduce the burden of estate taxes on your beneficiaries.
  3. Avoiding Probate Delays:
    • A well-structured estate plan can help expedite the distribution of assets and avoid the lengthy and often costly probate process. This is particularly important to ensure your beneficiaries receive their inheritances in a timely manner.
  4. Ensuring Financial Security for Loved Ones:
    • Estate planning allows you to provide financial security for your loved ones, including spouses children, and other dependents. Trusts, in particular, can be designed to provide ongoing financial support and management.
  5. Maintaining Privacy:
    • Unlike probate, which is a public process, estate planning through a Trust can maintain a higher level of privacy. You can keep the details of your estate and its distribution confidential.

Steps for Planning an Estate Gift through a Will or Trust:

  1. Assessing Assets and Debts:
    • Begin by taking stock of all your assets, including real estate, investments, bank accounts, and personal property. Additionally, assess outstanding debts to get a clear picture of your estate’s financial standing.
  2. Identifying Beneficiaries and Executors:
    • Clearly identify and list the beneficiaries of your estate. Choose an executor or trustee who will be responsible for carrying out the instructions outlined in your Will or Trust. Ensure that these individuals are willing and capable of fulfilling their roles.
  3. Drafting the Will or Trust:
    • Seek professional assistance from an estate planning attorney to draft a legally sound Will or Trust. Clearly articulate how assets should be distributed, considering the unique needs and circumstances of your beneficiaries.
  4. Incorporating Advance Directives:
    • Include advance directives such as a durable power of attorney and healthcare proxy in your estate plan. These documents empower trusted individuals to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf in case of incapacitation.
  5. Regularly Reviewing and Updating:
    • Life circumstances change, and it’s essential to review and update your estate plan periodically. This ensures that the plan aligns with current assets, family dynamics and legal requirements.
  6. Funding the Trust (if applicable):
    • Transferring assets into the Trust is crucial, a process known as “funding.” This step is often overlooked but is essential for the Trust to function as intended.

Estate planning through a Will or Trust is a thoughtful and proactive approach to secure your legacy and provide for loved ones. The benefits extend beyond financial considerations, encompassing emotional and practical aspects of your family’s well-being. Enjoy the peace of ensuring your wishes are honored, and your legacy endures in a way that reflects your values and priorities.

Your legacy is partially defined by the charities you choose to support through your estate plans. For further guidance, we can connect you to a reputable professional estate planning service at no cost or obligation. Please call Olivet Nazarene University at 815-939-5171 or email

Woody Webb

With more than 35 years’ experience in higher education, Walter “Woody” Webb serves as the Director of Planned and Estate Giving at Olivet Nazarene University located in Bourbonnais, IL. You can contact him directly at

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