The Simple Polish Nun

The story of a young Polish woman, Faustyna Kowalska, whose visions of Jesus Christ inspired devotion to the Divine Mercy is compelling, especially for those of us who have felt “led” to perform an act of mercy for someone else. Now, her story has been brought to the big screen in a very limited engagement in theaters in the U.S.

At just seven years old, Faustina felt a calling to the religious life. At 19, she had a vision of the suffering Jesus. Without even asking her parents’ permission, she responded by boarding a train for Warsaw with only the clothes on her back in order to join a convent. After multiple refusals, one mother superior finally gave her a chance if she was willing to work as a housemaid and pay her own way.

Movie portrayal of St. Faustina

Faustina eventually met the priest who was to become her confessor and encouraged her to write down in her diary her mystical experiences with the Christ Jesus. She wrote that Jesus appeared to her wearing a white garment with red and pale rays emanating from His heart, then ask her to paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature “Jesus, I trust in You.” He promised that those who venerate the image will not perish. It was done, even thought she did not know how to paint.

How the image came to be painted, and how its image has changed the lives of those who venerate it up to this day is revealed in the movie Love and Mercy, now at local theaters for a very limited time. Access The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska book.

The Christmas season is an excellent time to learn and reflect on our own relationship with the Christ Jesus story. See the movie trailer and make up your own mind about whether you feel “led” to know more. Just click the Watch Trailer button in the Love and Mercy link above.

Blessings on this Christmas Season from all of us at the Stewardship Foundation.

Top 4 Charitable Giving Strategies

If your charitable giving is limited to cash donations to organizations and causes you love, you may want to take a more strategic approach. Who wouldn’t want to pay less in taxes while at the same time making your charitable giving go further and do more than you ever dreamed!

The TOP 4 Charitable Giving Strategies

#1 Beneficiary Designations

Donors can designate a charitable organization as a beneficiary of their will, retirement plan, individual retirement account (IRA), life insurance policy, annuity, or any other asset that passes by contract, such as a payable on death account. The charity can be the primary beneficiary or one of several beneficiaries. Accounts with named beneficiaries are generally not subject to probate; however, designating a charitable beneficiary under a will is subject to probate. Distributions of retirement assets that would be subject to income tax, such as from a traditional IRA, are also exempt from income tax when passing to a charitable organization.

#2 Charitable Remainder Trust

If you want to make a future gift while retaining the right to income from the assets during your lifetime, you could consider a Charitable Remainder Trust. This is an irrevocable trust funded with either cash or property. You retain the right to an income stream that is either a fixed amount or a fixed percentage, such as with a Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust (CRAT) or Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT). Income is paid for a number of years or for the life of the income beneficiary. When the trust ends, the assets pass to the charitable entity. You may be entitled to a tax deduction when you transfer assets to the trust. Also, by donating highly appreciated property to the trust rather than selling it and donating cash, you avoid incurring capital gain tax on the sale of the property since the trust, not you, owns the property. Keep in mind that such a trust is irrevocable, so you cannot terminate it or change the terms (other than retaining a power to change charitable beneficiaries). Also, the assets in the trust will not be available for your heirs.

#3 Charitable Lead Trust

Like the CRAT or CRUT, the Charitable Lead Trust makes periodic payments for a term of years or for life, but the payments go to a charitable entity rather than to the donor or another individual. When the trust ends, the remaining assets return to you or pass to other noncharitable beneficiaries, such as your children. Depending on how the trust is structured, you may be entitled to an income tax charitable deduction when assets are transferred to the trust.

#4 Donor-Advised Fund

If you would like to make multiple gifts but are tired of the paperwork, consider creating a donor advised fund. This is a charitable fund managed by a community foundation or a charitable entity created by a bank or other organization.

Contributions to a Donor-Advised Fund are tax deductible; however, assets transferred to the fund do not need to be immediately distributed to a charity. You may retain the ability to make recommendations for distributions to charitable beneficiaries; helpful if you want to take a charitable deduction but are not yet sure which charities you want to support.

These charitable giving methods may allow you or your heirs to benefit from your assets while providing needed funds to charity during your lifetime. If any of these options interest you, contact us now info@stewardshipworks.org to see if which of these planned gift strategies can benefit your overall estate plan.

Estate & Gift Planning Awareness

October is Estate and Gift Planning Awareness Month — dedicated to supporting the improvement of financial awareness and financial literacy for all Americans.

According to the Financial Awareness Foundation, a majority of adults in the U.S. that reach age 79 are almost out of money even though life expectancies are well in the mid-80s and beyond.

Over 120 million adults don’t have nor do they understand the importance of having a current financial, estate and gift planning strategy to protect themselves and their assets during their lifetime and after death.

Too many young people and their families are burdened with excessive education debt. Student loan debt is the second largest class of consumer debt after mortgages!

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported in January 2019 that there’s a link between financial education and financial well-being. A key finding was that while many adults desire to educate themselves to become more financially literate, they often seek out that information only within their social networks. This cuts across all demographics, including education level and income and is quite alarming: People are making critical life decisions based on information gained from non-experts and fragmented sources. 

If you, or someone you care about, needs a financial health and planning checkup, we are happy to offer our professional advice, or we can recommend a financial planner that is the ideal fit for your personal financial situation. Drop us a note at info@stewardshipworks.org