Biblical 'Descent and Distribution'
by Henry M. Morris IV *
The illustrious Benjamin Franklin once wrote that “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”1 No doubt many of our readers, like me, have grumbled about the truth in his statement as they wrestle with their tax filings each year. But taxes can’t be equally compared to death—the one true enemy of all mankind. For “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Romans 5:12), and God’s once-perfect creation has groaned under the curse of decay and death ever since (Romans 8:22).
Yet for those who have been redeemed and forgiven by Christ, death is merely an entrance into the joyful presence of our Savior. While the sorrow of the moment may be heavy at times, we can celebrate a life lived for Christ and look forward with joy to that great day when we will be reunited in heaven. What a blessing believers have in Jesus, knowing that death is but a temporary separation for those who know the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Many of our readers have no doubt experienced the home-going of friends or loved ones and afterwards reflected on their own circumstances. For committed Christians, this is often a reminder from the Lord to readjust our focus back onto things of eternal value. But without proper planning, the resources God has granted us in life may not be distributed appropriately after we go home to heaven.
The first line of defense is to have a valid written will that provides for the Kingdom. Regrettably, studies have shown that more than half the people who pass away do not have one. Some believe they do not own enough property, while others believe their spouse and intended beneficiaries will inherit everything automatically. But most simply procrastinate, and the results can be alarming.
Without a valid will in place, state laws of “descent and distribution” essentially create a state-written will for you. The state decides who administers your estate and who functions as the guardian of your minor children. In many cases, these actions deplete your estate with unnecessary expenses. And state-written wills don’t allow tax-saving bequests of any kind—to your friends, your church, or to ministries like ICR that honor the Lord Jesus Christ.
Scripture teaches a simple but effective model to distribute remaining earthly assets for the good of the Kingdom. In short, we are commanded to:
- Take care of our families (1 Timothy 5:8)
- Provide for our churches (1 Corinthians 16:2)
- Support Christian ministries (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
- Share in general charity (2 Corinthians 9:8-9)
Without a will, your remaining assets may not be disbursed in a truly biblical manner. In obedience to the Lord, please do not allow this to happen to you.
ICR’s Planned Giving website (go to www.icr.org/donate and click on the Planned Giving link) contains highly interactive modules to assist you in crafting a well-planned will. ICR can also provide samples of well-written wills and helpful brochures on proper will preparation. Most wills can be prepared relatively inexpensively by a knowledgeable attorney, and ICR can recommend one in your area. And if you wish to support ICR, it’s easy to include a simple bequest to ensure a portion of your assets are shared with our ministry. We promise to put it to prayerful use in our work to honor our Creator.
Be prepared for your home-going. Provide for your family. Protect your God-given resources. Share them with the Kingdom. ICR can help—please visit icr.org/donate, or contact us today at 800.337.0375 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Letter to French scientist Jean-Baptiste Leroy, November 13, 1789.
* Mr. Morris is Director of Donor Relations at the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris IV, H. 2013. Biblical “Descent and Distribution.” Acts & Facts. 42 (4): 21.