Fund-Raising vs. Estate Planning

By now, everybody knows that our church has reached a very exciting but critical stage in its life. Maintenance and restoration of our buildings can no longer be deferred. At the same time, we are blessed with a very responsive congregation. The overwhelming majority of our members have pledged their support towards the preservation project.

However, for some of us, the church’s fund-raising efforts have raised a number of serious questions and it is part of our ministry together to address these as well. I am speaking of the difficult questions of estate planning. Some of us perceive a great conflict between their need of financial security during old age and their heartfelt desire to support First Reformed Church at this critical stage in its development. Ultimately, the weight of this conflict prevents some of our donors from enjoying the result of their gift during their life-time.

The question is only whether the conflict as described is necessary. A little education in matters of estate planning may help alleviate much of the perceived tension.

It may also help to shield an estate from unnecessary taxation. Did you know, for example, that the 2006 Pension Protection Act allows everybody who has an IRA account and is 70½ years old, to donate up to $100,000 per year to a non-profit organization like our church? According to this law, the donation cannot count as taxable income. Yet it qualifies as a mandatory IRA withdrawal. Unfortunately, the law extends only until December 31, 2007.

However, as pastors we have only limited knowledge with regards to estate planning. But we would like to encourage you to seek the advice of a professional. It is best to use a person you trust. Perhaps you have an accountant or an insurance agent who could help. If you wish, our church office can also refer you to persons who are trained in estate planning. Just give us a call at 732-545-1005.

About Rev. Dr. Hartmut Kramer-Mills

Hartmut Kramer-Mills, a native of Jena, Germany, began his theological education at Heidelberg University. After the Middle Exam in 1986 he received a scholarship from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches for McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He graduated from McCormick with a Master of Divinity in 1988. He graduated from Marburg University in Germany with the Ecclesiastical Exam in 1990, and received a Dr. theol. from Greifswald University, Germany, in 1997. From 1990 to 1991 he was vicar at St. Wenzel in Naumburg, Germany. He was ordained minister of word and sacrament in 1993 through the Protestant Church of the Church Province of Saxony. From 1993 to 1998 he served as assistant pastor in Stoessen, Goerschen, and Rathewitz, Germany. At the same time he was lecturer for Church History at Erfurt College in Germany. From 1999 to 2000 he served the Spotswood Reformed Church in New Jersey as interim pastor. Since 2000 he and his wife serve the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as co-pastors.
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