Paying it Forward

A favorite story from the scriptures is found in Luke Chapter 21.  It is the familiar story of the widow’s mite:“And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.  And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.  And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God; but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.”I love the message of this story on so many levels.  It is not a dismissal of the gifts of the wealthy as much as it is recognition of the wonderful sacrifice of the widow.  In this country we are all greatly blessed.  Even the poorest among us are rich in comparison to many throughout the world.  We in the United States are also a charitable people.  Studies have shown “that the average American citizen gives away three-and-a-half times as much money each year as the average French citizen, seven times as much as the average German, and 14 times as much as the average Italian.”Often in estate planning the first question asked is - what will the children receive?   But, I would encourage a different first question.  That question would be - how much of your estate should be given to charity?  In most cases the good that could be done by a charitable bequest is far greater than the importance of any gift to a child.  So remember, you stand on the shoulders of giants.  You have benefited from the generosity of others along the way.  Pay it back by paying something forward to your church, a school, etc.  Maybe even all that you have.