Special to Iredell Free News

There are so many situations and events in life that you must plan for: college tuition, weddings, your first child, a new home, life insurance, and the list goes on.

With all these events happening in your life, it can be difficult to think about planning for decisions after your life.

“A lot of people do not want to talk about wills, especially younger people, because people associate it with death. And while yes, that’s true, it’s more about making sure any assets you’ve built up in your life go to the correct people and decreasing the burden placed on loved ones,” said Jen Balog, executive director of the Iredell Health Foundation.

Only 33 percent of Americans have created a will, living trust, or similar end-of-life document, according to Caring.com, a leading senior living referral service. That means that nearly 70 percent of Americans do not have a will and are, in turn, leaving all the assets they’ve accumulated in their life up to the state.

“As you age, you build more assets – homes, stocks, bank accounts, cars, and other components of your estate. Most people believe their assets will automatically go to the correct people based on their wishes, but this is not true. If families don’t have a will, upon their passing, decisions will be made for them by the state. It can be a long, grueling process for family members if things are not put in place before they pass,” said Balog.

When asked when she started preparing her own will, Balog said she created it after her first child.

“Usually, the first touchpoint when people think about creating a will is when they have their first child. If something were to happen to you, you have to make sure you have guardianship and money set up for your child,” said Balog.

However, according to Balog, any time is the right time to start planning your will. Anyone over the age of 18 is encouraged to start thinking about their will.

How to Start Making Your Will

If you wish to start making your will, the Iredell Health Foundation has a free resource, called the Estate Planning Guide, to help you through the process.

“The Estate Planning Guide will walk you through the process of assessing, looking at, and writing down any financial or tangible assets you have,” said Balog.

The guide will help you decide what to include in your will, such as your belongings, savings, and estate. It will also help you decide what individuals or organizations you want to receive your assets. Real and/or personal property goes to heirs, while money from things like life insurance policies, investment accounts, and trusts goes to beneficiaries. A beneficiary can be people or organizations, like charities.

“Once you have the Estate Planning Booklet completed, you can take it to your local attorney. It will be a great starting point for them to start drafting your will,” said Balog.

You can find the Estate Planning Guide online at ihflegacy.org or by calling the Foundation office at 704-878-7669.

When you do decide to start making your will, Balog recommends looking over it with your family.

“Families should be involved in the planning. It’s important for the kids to know what is being planned, what assets they will have, and where everything will be,” said Balog.

In fact, according to Cambridge Trust, 52 percent of people do not know where their parents store estate planning documents, so keeping your family involved in your planning is essential.

Donating to Charity in Your Will

One of the ways to give back to causes you care about is by supporting them in your will. These bequests to charity or nonprofit organizations are often called planned or legacy gifts.

“I think of it as your last testament to the world about the legacy you want to leave,” said Balog.

You are probably aware of the tax benefits of donating to charity during your lifetime, but there are also tax benefits to doing so after your lifetime. Dedicating a portion of your estate to a charitable cause can actually reduce the taxable value of your estate.

You can give any of your assets to a nonprofit. This includes financial assets, real estate, or personal property. You can also name a charity as a beneficiary of your life insurance policy, retirement account, or IRA.

“If you are passionate about Iredell Health System or grateful for your care, you can actually leave a legacy gift through the Iredell Health Foundation as a sign of your gratitude,” said Balog.

If you wish to donate to the Iredell Health Foundation in your will, you can make a general gift that would go to Iredell Health System’s greatest need, or you can leave a gift to a specific program.

“For instance, if you are really passionate about a certain aspect of healthcare, like women’s health, you can leave money specifically to the Women’s Health Fund,” said Balog.

“When you visit an attorney about your will, there’s a section that you can make a charitable gift. That’s when you can name the Iredell Health Foundation if you so wish,” she said.

If you do add the Iredell Health Foundation or another charity in your will, make sure to let the charity know so they can say thank you and recognize you.

When you leave a legacy gift to the Iredell Health Foundation, you will be invited to join Iredell’s 1954 Legacy Society. The legacy society honors those donors who have selflessly made a legacy gift by including Iredell in their estate plans in support of the continued work of Iredell Health System.

Members are given a small celebration gift and are invited to an annual luncheon, as well as other activities throughout the year.


To learn more about Iredell Health Foundation legacy gifts or will planning in general, please visit ihflegacy.org or call the foundation office at 704-878-7669.

About Iredell Health Foundation

The Iredell Health Foundation is a 501(C)3 nonprofit organization responsible for philanthropy for Iredell Health System. It supports the system’s programs and services through donor-centered fundraising. The Foundation focuses on raising community awareness of specific programs that need funding and provides individuals and organizations hoping to make a difference and leave a legacy the opportunity to support local healthcare needs of their choice. To learn more, or to make a donation, visit
www.iredellhealthfoundation.org or call 704-878-7669.