Preparing your Legacy through Estate Planning

The Generosity Trust exists because a woman planned ahead. Dora Maclellan Brown made arrangements for a trust to be established and continue in perpetuity to facilitate Christian generosity in Chattanooga and beyond. Now, several generations later, The Generosity Trust continues to grow and serve donors and future ministry leaders. It’s all thanks to Aunt Dora’s well-designed estate plan.

Estate planning is as simple as it sounds. It refers to making a plan for what to do with your estate upon the eventuality of your death. Everyone has an estate, even if it is just household furniture and kitchenware. Some people have complex estates (such as real estate, business ownership, or appreciated assets), while other estates may be more simple. No matter the size of your estate, you must decide how those assets will be distributed. If you don’t plan in advance for the distribution of your assets, the state will oversee the process. 

Wayne Peters, of Gearhiser, Peters, Elliott and Cannon, has seen everything when it comes to estate planning. For over 50 years, he has provided legal counsel for families structuring and protecting their estate. Wayne began his professional career in accounting in 1966, and he began the practice of law in 1968. He practices primarily in Tennessee and Georgia, and since 1993 he has consistently been included in “Best Lawyers in America” for Trusts and Estates.

Wayne offers three pieces of advice when it comes to estate planning:

Plan ahead. Many people fail to plan ahead when it comes to the distribution of assets upon their death. They tend to put it off because they either find it too daunting, or they think the process is going to be too expensive, since it requires getting a lawyer involved. The truth is, they are simply transferring the burden and the cost to their survivors. Making a plan will ensure their wishes are honored and their heirs are not unduly burdened.

Designate beneficiaries. The core of the estate planning process is designating the people and charities who will receive a portion of your estate. You need to have a list of your assets and a corresponding list of the people you’d like to take possession of those assets upon your passing. It’s not about how much you have. It’s about deciding what to do with what you have. 

Utilize generosity tools. You have many options when it comes to being generous with your estate. One of the simplest and most effective tools for giving to charities is a Donor-Advised Fund. You can deposit assets into a Donor-Advised Fund like those offered by The Generosity Trust and then empower certain individuals to recommend distributions to charities and ministries. Those individuals can be family or trusted friends. Some individuals with significant assets often consider establishing a private foundation. Though there can be situations where that makes sense, a Donor-Advised Fund is the best tool for most people.

For many Christians, generosity is an important component of their estate plan. They have financially supported ministries and organizations their entire lives and want to make a final gift to them from their estate. An estate plan enables them to leave a legacy gift to their favorite charities. For those who have a sizable estate, they can even establish a trust in the same manner as Dora Maclellan Brown that continues to distribute gifts for generations. 

The Generosity Trust works alongside attorneys and financial advisors in helping families execute their charitable desires in the estate planning process. Contact Jim Barber at to discover ways we can help you prepare your estate.



345 Frazier Ave., Unit 205
Chattanooga, TN 37405



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