Estate Planning for a Patriarch

The concept of stewardship is at the heart of our estate planning practice here at wh Law | We Help. When someone works hard for their stuff, we like for them to be able to keep it for as long as possible. And when they can’t keep it any longer, we want to put it where it should go. We want to help people take care of their assets because the assets are ultimately a gift from God. And God is honored when we treat his good gifts with respect. genesis-25-abraham

While reading in Genesis 25 this week, I was struck by Abraham’s stewardship of his assets. In fact, some of Abraham’s decisions closely mimic the very steps or advice that we might use in our estate planning. None of this is prescriptive, obviously, and I have some taken some liberties with the text. But the fact remains: good stewardship looks the same across cultures and eras. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise us that Abraham’s division of his assets is strikingly similar to what we might have done.

Here are some examples of best practices in Genesis 25:

1. Giving your assets away before you die

Abraham gave his stuff away while he was around to make sure that it went down as he intended. He gave his inheritance to Isaac and gifts (apparently substantial ones) to his other children. (As an aside, this would have allowed Abraham’s family to avoid probate. Unfortunately, however, Abraham would have penalized for Medicaid purposes).

2. Understanding the problems with second or blended families

This account is a good reminder that family has always been complicated. There could only be one child of promise according to God’s plan, so only one son could receive the inheritance. Abraham knew that this would likely create jealousy among his children and thus gave his sons both enough money to establish their own life and do it somewhere else.

3. Including everyone

Abraham could have excluded the sons that he had with Hagar and Keturah, but he instead gave them enough to start their own lives. Nothing can ruin an otherwise-solid estate plan like a scorned family member.