It is difficult to imagine that 200 years from now people may be researching us—trying to find all they can about how we lived our lives in these millennial years. Recently, there has been a heightened interest in tracing one’s roots through mail-order saliva tests.
Countless people want to know where and from whom they came. They are also concerned with the legacy they are leaving behind.
Some have tried to leave a final message on their gravestone. Comedian Rodney Dangerfield left with a laugh. His reads, “There goes the neighborhood.” The gravestone of famous talk-show host, Merv Griffin, has these words, “I will not be right back after this message.” A man named John Yeast simply put, “Pardon me for not rising.” Finally, a woman named Kay made a unique statement by leaving her “Famous Fudge” recipe etched in stone. People have tried making it with varied results.
Many individuals have made donations to universities in the hope of establishing a lasting legacy. Unfortunately, sometimes a wealthier patron might overshadow and erase a previous benefactor’s name from a building.
For we Christians, perhaps leaving a final message of faith is important. While approaches like those above have been tried—we suggest an alternative. We advocate personalizing your will with a statement of love to family members and a statement of faith.
"I know not what course others may take; but for me, give me liberty or give me death!" -Patrick Henry
Why is a Statement in your Will Needed?
A will is a matter of public record (a trust is not). Consequently, if your intent is to leave a document in the public record for an extended period of time—a statement of faith in your will should accomplish your goal.
Does it Work?
“This is all the inheritance I can give my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed,” concludes the will of a former post-colonial Governor of Virginia. This will is still available at a county courthouse in central Virginia, though its author died in 1799.
To whom does this statement of faith belong?
The same man who famously said, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but for me, give me liberty or give me death!" Patrick Henry, the author of the speech and the will, is sometimes called the Orator of the Revolution.
Like Henry, your will can leave your legacy of faith. Imagine a great-great grandchild looking into the deep past of their family legacy. Surprisingly, they might discover a strong message in a will urging descendants to make Christ the focus of their lives. The impact of that message could be both immeasurable and eternal.