John Gibson still remembers the stress of helping his aging parents with their estate and financial planning.
“It was 1986, my father was 80 years old and was struggling to finish his estate plan,” Gibson recalled. “He had worked on it for two years with his attorney, and it still wasn’t what he wanted, so he asked me to review it.”
As a successful broker and real estate manager, Gibson decided to enlist the help of WaterStone, a Christian community foundation that has helped hundreds of clients of all income levels generate a greater economic impact, both for the Kingdom and themselves, by incorporating religious values into financial plans.
“A gentleman named Dave took time to visit with my parents, and within thirty minutes of speaking with him, my father realized that while he had a trust and a will, it was nowhere near a Christian estate plan,” Gibson said.
During the meeting, Dave made a comment to Gibson’s father that completely changed his mindset: “He said, ‘In your estate, isn’t God as important as at least one of your children? And where in your estate plan have you provided for God in your legacy? You have three kids; why don’t you treat God like a fourth child?’”
“Those words stuck with my parents,” Gibson said. “They had been in church for as long as I could remember, yet it had never dawned on them that when you do an estate plan, you need to make a provision for God. God allowed you to make and manage the money, and giving back is the next transition.”
“After meeting with Dave, my parents threw away everything they’d worked on for two years. Over the next 60 days, Dave helped them completely redo their estate plan.”
Dave encouraged the elderly couple to make charitable donations through WaterStone while they were still alive.
“He said, ‘You can afford to give to your favorite charities now, so why wait until after you die?’” Gibson said. “It’s a really profound concept when you think about it. Oftentimes, older people who are retired hope their children manage their money better than they have, which doesn’t happen very often.”
Through WaterStone, Gibson’s parents were able to set up a Giving Fund, also known as a Donor-Advised Fund, a giving strategy that allows clients to make a charitable contribution, receive an immediate tax deduction, and then recommend grants from the fund over time.
“My parents had some properties that were very difficult to sell, so they decided to donate them to WaterStone and avoid all taxes on them,” Gibson said. “Doing so gave them a tax deduction, and when they sold those assets, they had liquidity in their Giving Fund to start doing things that were important to them from a contribution standpoint.”
“One huge benefit of using a Giving Fund”, Gibson said, “is that it allows the donor to give money to their favorite charities instead of the IRS. From a tax-planning standpoint, it allows you to look at high-income years and basically bank the money that you can donate in lean years,” he explained. “That’s what I did in advance of retirement; when you donate to WaterStone, it’s tax-free. Now, it’s in your giving account so that, after you retire in a lean year, you can continue giving.”
As a Christian organization, WaterStone ensures all charitable donations are given to companies that align with their Statement of Faith. WaterStone seeks to: Honor God through the transformational power of giving; Serve givers at the intersection of faith and finance, and Build the Kingdom by transforming assets into living water.
“WaterStone clearly has a Christian directive,” Gibson said. “Once you’ve donated an asset into WaterStone, you can never have it back. It’s God’s money. It takes you from having your money to give to having God’s money to manage. So now, the money’s over there — what are you going to do with it? It’s a different mental perspective and one that Christians should employ.”
When Gibson’s parents died, their estate plan was fully implemented — and they left behind a tremendous financial legacy thanks to WaterStone.
“My parents had set up sub-accounts for all of my children that were fully-funded annually, and my kids had the opportunity to manage for the Kingdom where the money would go,” Gibson said. “It was an educational experience for my children to look back and see what kinds of opportunities my mom and dad had funded when they were alive as a template.”
“WaterStone helped my children realize that their money wasn’t theirs — it was God’s and they had an opportunity to invest it,” he continued. “WaterStone doesn’t tell you what you have to do with your money, but the giving options go from a short list to an infinite list. It’s a great way to train the next generation for the Kingdom.”
Thanks to WaterStone, the skills Gibson acquired working through his family's estate issues allowed him to help other families similarly plan for their future.
"I had the privilege of working twenty years for a construction family that had similar estate planning and needs," he shared. "The experience that I gained from working through this with my family provided the experience and connections with WaterStone to craft a unique plan for the parents and four sons."
"Following the deaths of my parents and 20 years later with the parents of my employer, – I watched the fruits of our efforts in both families provide a seamless transition of their estate planning and charitable giving desires," he continued. "My experience has been to participate in several of these 'full cycles' of family legacy planning and realizing how well it worked with WaterStone."
"WaterStone," he stressed, "did a very good job making what otherwise could have been difficult much easier."
Now retired, Gibson uses WaterStone for his own estate planning — and finds peace knowing his money is in good hands.
“WaterStone is not only focused on growing the Kingdom, but it also has some really sharp people on their board, from their receptionist to their accountant to their attorney,” he shared. “Their affiliates are top-notch people. When you need something done, they’re not looking to charge your account a lot; they’re very reasonable for the services you get.”
“I’ve never seen anyone at WaterStone get impatient or pushy,” he added. “Everyone goes out of their way to service their clients in a professional and friendly manner. I’ve worked with other companies, and WaterStone stands out because they are dedicated to finding the right outcome for your family, honoring God along the way.”
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