Question:

If someone has no family and wants to make a will leaving his estate for benevolent work (helping the very poor, but also spreading the Gospel), how can this be accomplished? I know how to retain a lawyer and get the legalities performed, but who, in the churches of Christ, does the good works and preaches the gospel to the lost, so that nothing of the estate is siphoned off or wasted? What, where, or who in the brotherhood can I contact so that my life's work will be use for feeding the poor and saving the lost and not for building buildings or sending a few to school, etc. Please let me hear your comments (favorable or unfavorable).


Answer:

In the United States you would have to either give your money to an individual with instructions on how you want the funds spent, or you have to establish a trust fund where the person or persons managing the fund is directed how you want the funds spent on your behalf. Having one person charged with the handling of the funds in either situation means you have to trust that person to carry out your wishes. Typically there are some safeguards in a trust fund, but they are not perfect. Usually mismanagement is not discovered until after the fact. Have the trust fund managed by a set of people tends to better operated since the people act as a check on each other. This is one reason Paul had the churches send their funds to Judea with someone they trusted instead of handling the money himself, even though Paul was perfectly trustworthy. "And we have sent with him the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches, and not only that, but who was also chosen by the churches to travel with us with this gift, which is administered by us to the glory of the Lord Himself and to show your ready mind, avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us -- providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men" (II Corinthians 8:18-21).

If the fund is likely to last beyond the lifetime of those administering it, you need to allow those currently administering the fund to select their successors.

Giving the funds directly to those you want to receive it gives you better control at the time you give the funds, but you lose control of how the individuals or charities choose to spend the money once given.