Estate planning benefits San Antonio church

SAN ANTONIO Because of estate planning, a Texas businesswoman was able to leave a multimillion-dollar gift to her local church upon her death, placing the congregation in a strong financial position for launching a new campus.  

Castle Hills Baptist Church in San Antonio took advantage of a free service offered by the Southern Baptists of Texas Foundation—a “House in Order” seminar that encourages believers to leave kingdom-focused financial legacies by tithing their estates to ministry.

“The House in Order seminar lays a biblical foundation for how to be good stewards of what God has given us over the years,” Jeffrey Steed, director of planned giving at the SBTF, told the TEXAN. “We talk about wills, power of attorney documents, living trusts and living wills.”

Representatives from the foundation also discuss planned giving during the seminars, which last 45 to 60 minutes. 

“I always encourage individuals to at least tithe their estate to their local church or whatever ministry,” Steed said, adding that churches can host the seminars during Sunday School, on a Sunday evening, a Wednesday evening or as a special event.

“Some churches will have it in Sunday School with all the adults pulled into one room because it is something that every adult should consider. I talk about guardianships for children too, so it applies to all ages—to protect family and to benefit ministry,” Steed said.

Estate planning helps a person plan for how an estate will be distributed after death, Steed said. It involves wills and other documents to ensure a smooth transition of assets from one generation to the next. Particularly for a person living with kingdom focus, estate planning should include not just family but ministry, Steed said.

“Estate planning is, for most individuals, the most important and impactful stewardship decision of our entire lives because that’s when the majority of our wealth is going to transfer,” Steed said. “Most people don’t do much planning, if any.”

Castle Hills in San Antonio hosted a House in Order seminar in 2004 and again in 2012. During the first seminar, a single businesswoman made plans to distribute part of her estate to the church. When she died last fall, the church received roughly $2.75 million, according to Mark Hogan, an elder at Castle Hills.

“Our church is in the planning and executing stages of adding another church location, and this has been an incredible blessing to our church,” Hogan, a financial advisor at Wells Fargo Advisors, told the TEXAN. “When you’re looking to buy land or remodel a building, a gift like that is an incredible blessing for capital to start with.”

The plan for the new location was in place before the church knew about the gift, Hogan said.

“We had no clue how we were going to get the money to do this, but God knew exactly when we would need it,” Hogan said. “These kinds of gifts help us to spend far more time reaching out to the community instead of trying to find where the funds are going to come from. Even though it may take years before the blessings come in, God’s perfect timing certainly was in place for us.”

Hogan encourages Texas churches to consider hosting estate planning seminars. 

“I think we’re in tune with tithing on our current income, but sometimes God grows assets that we’ve really never tithed on because they were never current income—especially land or businesses,” Hogan said. 

“When you’re getting ready to pass an estate on, I think it’s a great idea to consider tithing back to your church off your estate and consider giving an offering off that estate to charitable organizations that are near and dear to your heart, to include the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention or the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Churches interested in hosting estate planning seminars can contact the Southern Baptists of Texas Foundation at 817-552-2500 or visit

“We would love the opportunity to be in churches and educate members on estate planning,” Steed said.  

TEXAN Correspondent
Erin Roach
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