Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Planning a Will, Trust or Annuity

"Many are not exercised upon the subject of making their wills while they are in apparent health.  But this precaution should be taken...They should know their financial standing and...should arrange their property in such a manner that they may leave it at any time."

Counsels on Stewardship, page 328

Regardless of age or financial standing, every adult needs a will.  Seven out of ten people do not have a will.  If you were to die unexpectedly without a will, the state would decide not only who receives your assets, but also who would be given custody of your minor children.  With the exception of the state of Florida, all southeastern state courts would give only a portion of assets to a surviving spouse with children in the case of someone who dies intestate -without a will.

A will is a legal document that insures that your wishes are carried out after your death.  In your will, you name a personal representative and, if you have minor children, a guardian and trustee. Upon your death, your will is recorded at the courthouse in the county where you resided.  This process, called "probate," is supervised by the county court.  The major concern of the probate court is the proper transfer of real estate and the care of minor children.

"Wills should be made in a manner to stand the test of law."  Ibid.

In order for a will to hold up to the strongest test of law, it should be prepared by an attorney.  Because each state has different laws, it is important that you receive the legal expertise that an attorney provides in the preparation of estate planning documents.  The size of a taxable estate continues to be redefined by the Internal Revenue Service.  Large estates may be subject to federal estate tax and should be evaluated by a qualified tax attorney prior to the preparation of estate planning documents.

As circumstances change, it is prudent to review any existing estate plan documents to insure that they continue to meet your needs.  When a new will is prepared, it should revoke any and all previous wills.  It is not necessary to prepare a new will if you move to a different state; however, in the case of life changes such as marriage, divorce, birth or death, a new will should be created.

We offer estate planning services to each constituent of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference.  All documents are prepared by an attorney specializing in estate planning. 

Available to Georgia-Cumberland Conference constituents at no charge:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • General Power of Attorney (financial)
  • Durable Power of Attorney for healthcare
  • Will clinic at your church 


Last Will and Testament—the Last Will and Testament contains an individual’s formal instructions indicating the disposition of property (estate) at death:

  1. A will should be drafted by an attorney knowledgeable in estate planning.
  2. Property ownership is not affected by the will during lifetime since a will does not become effective until the testator’s (individual’s) death.
  3. Specific items of property need not be mentioned in the will, as an estate can be distributed by shares or percentages, thus the sale or acquisition of property does not necessarily require changes in the will.
  4. The testator’s choice of a personal representative for the estate can be designated in the will, as well as the designation of a guardian for the testator’s minor children.
  5. Upon the testator’s death, the personal representative, represented by an attorney of choice, is appointed by the probate court.  The personal representative then has the responsibility of collecting the decedent’s assets and distributing them in accordance with the will. The administration of the estate is then carried out under the supervision and direction of the probate court.
  6. A will can be changed or entirely redrafted at any time.


Power of Attorney—a power of attorney is an instrument authorizing another to act as one’s agent or attorney in fact.  This instrument is revoked upon the death of the principal by operation of law. Such power may be either general or specific. It is used primarily for business transactions.  Extreme caution should be used when designating the power of attorney. 


Health Care Surrogate/Living Will—A health care surrogate/living will is twofold: First, it designates and authorizes another person to serve as one’s agent to make health care decisions when that person is unable to make those decisions; second, it designates which medical procedures a person does or does not desire in order to sustain life.  It may also declare that one does not desire to be kept alive by any medical procedure if it is determined that his/her condition is terminal with no probability of recovery.


Charitable Gift Annuity

The charitable gift annuity is unique in that while the gift is irrevocable, the investment may earn you more than your initial gift, depending on your age and longevity.

  • You transfer cash, securities or other property to benefit the ministry of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference.
  • You receive an income tax deduction and possibly save capital gains tax.
  • Each year for the rest of your life, a fixed amount will be paid to you.  Typically, a portion of these payments is tax-free.
  • When the gift annuity ends, the rest of the principal passes to benefit Georgia-Cumberland Conference ministries.


Other Instruments

Other instruments which include Demand Notes for the Southern Union Revolving Fund, Revocable Living Trusts, Charitable Remainder Trusts, Charitable Lead Trusts, and various types of trusts suitable for specific estate planning circumstances are available to persons who desire to meet specific stewardship and estate planning objectives.  These documents require the expertise of a qualifed estate planning attorney.  Our personnel are prepared to provide our members with basic information concerning these important instruments and to assist them with finding a qualified estate planning attorney.


"Death will not come one day sooner...because you have made your will." - Counsels on Stewardship, page 328

To begin planning your estate, click here.  

If you have questions or would like to learn more about our services, send an email to or call 1-800-567-1844, ext. 361.  One of our Trust Services officers will contact you for a personal appointment, or to schedule a Will Clinic at your church.



Les Speer
Les Speer

Trust Services Officer/Field Rep

706-629-7951 ext 361

Jeff Wilson
Jeff Wilson

Trust Services Officer/Stipend

Patricia Orange
Patricia Orange

Trust Services Officer/Stipend