On January 24 our congregation met virtually to decide how to use a generous bequest to our church from long-time members Jack and Helen Graham. The Grahams’ affiliation with UUCLB dates back to the time when we were housed at 9th Avenue and Lime Street, near downtown Long Beach, and we were still the “Unitarian Church of Long Beach.” They were strong leaders in the church, especially in matters of social justice.
Rarely is the congregation required to vote on how to spend bequest money, but that’s not because the church is rarely included in members’ estate plans. It is because board policy states that only a gift that is valued at $100,000 or more, and is not directed to a specific program, is submitted to the wishes of the congregation.
One great benefit of the congregation’s voting on a bequest is that everyone gets to see the benefits that accrue to our church from the gift. Currently, the Planned Giving Committee is developing plans to make that transparency just as true with smaller bequests, which frequently are what make possible a special program or a physical improvement that doesn’t fit into our annual budget. Nearly all of those are distributed among several special funds, according to a predetermined formula, and then drawn on for special uses.
The Planned Giving Committee urges you to give serious thought to including the church in your estate planning. This can take any of a number of forms: a specific amount, a percentage of your estate, a particular stock or bond, a piece of real estate, and many, many others. The time to include the church in your estate plans is now, knowing that over time, you will probably wish to change the specifics of your plan, as your family or your financial situation changes – which they will, of course.
When you do include the church in your will or your trust, be sure to let the Planned Giving Committee know, so that you can be welcomed into the UUCLB Legacy Circle. You’ll find information and a form on the church website under the “Give” heading. Each year Legacy Circle members are given special recognition by the congregation and are also feted by the Planned Giving Committee in those years that are pandemic free.
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