Just Released: 2023 Annual Report // Read Now

Just Released: 2023 Annual Report // Read Now

Rhythms to Protect Your Family’s Future Wellbeing

Ministry life is filled with daily rhythms and planning but also many unexpected events. Ministry leaders can plan for some but for others, they cannot. Geneva understands the importance of ministerial wellbeing and guides ministry workers through the complexities of financial planning and benefits so that they can focus on their calling.

One simple, but often overlooked, key to planning for the future is ensuring that beneficiary information remains up to date.

Individuals often select beneficiaries when they are opening a retirement account or a life insurance policy. Account holders can choose a single beneficiary or multiple beneficiaries. They can even choose qualified charities like the Relief Fund as primary or partial beneficiaries. Selecting beneficiaries is necessary to ensure that assets that remain in those accounts are transferred to the correct person(s) or entities upon the death of the primary account holder.

It is common for individuals to not review or update their beneficiary information for decades, but just as with seasons, life’s circumstances change. Regular review of beneficiary information can ensure retirement and life insurance benefits are transferred to the correct person upon the death of the primary account holder. We recommend individuals set regular reminders to take this important action every 3-5 years.

Over the past 50 years of ministry, we have encountered heartbreaking situations where retirement account balances were paid out to a former spouse instead of the deceased participant’s current spouse. More recently, we were legally required to pay an account balance to a deceased pastor’s children instead of his newly married spouse. Because the Designated Beneficiary Form is a binding agreement, we are required to pay account balances to the individuals listed therein. For this reason, we want to share some practical steps to help ministry workers understand benefits and planning for the future.

Practical Steps

  • Beneficiaries listed in the Beneficiary Designation Form will always supersede beneficiaries listed in wills and trusts.  We recommend that individuals periodically (every 3-5 years) check their beneficiaries on file and update them as needed.
  • The Beneficiary Designation Form should be reviewed and potentially updated after major life events like marriage, remarriage, divorce, death of a spouse, and the birth, adoption or death of a child.  If a charity is listed as a beneficiary, periodically make sure the charity is still active and carrying out the desired mission.
  • Don’t forget to update all estate planning documents every 3-5 years.  This includes wills, trusts, powers of attorney, living wills, etc.

Participants in Geneva’s Standard, Enhanced, and Dependent Life Insurance Plans are eligible to have an attorney draw up a will for participants and their spouses at no additional cost. This includes testamentary trusts set up for children.  This is the best way to sync up beneficiaries across all estate planning.

Keeping beneficiary designations current is important to any family’s future wellbeing.

Questions? Contact a Benefits Advisor by phone at 800-789-8765 or email benefits@genevabenefits.org for assistance.   

Geneva Benefits Group serves those who serve others, providing practical support for the financial, physical, and mental wellbeing of people who work in full-time ministry.

Geneva offers preparedness and peace of mind with solutions tailored to the needs of ministry leaders and staff.