Ways to Incorporate Faith and Values into Your Estate Plan
Carissa Giebel 5:13 p.m. CST December 29, 2014
The ability to incorporate faith and values into an estate plan can mean more to some people than worrying about a dollar amount of assets and to whom it will go.
The good news is that there are a few different ways these can be incorporated into your estate plan.
For some, this means including one or more charities in their plan, as beneficiary. This may be a church or other charity that you hold near and dear to your heart.
It may even be a charity you’ve supported during your lifetime that you want to continue to support for years to come. You may wish to leave a dollar amount or a percentage, or perhaps you want to establish a trust to provide income or principal distributions to the charity for years to come.
Creating distribution provisions for your loved one is another option, by personalizing the ways money can be used. You may want distributions to your grandchildren to be for education only, or a religious education, or anything else that is important to you.
Some choose to limit the distributions, especially for younger beneficiaries, to encourage hard work and self-sufficiency.
Writing letters or making videos for your children, grandchildren, and other loved ones can be a special, personalized way to share the faith and values you hold dear. If you have minor children, writing a letter for that potential guardian who may someday be raising your children can be important, too.
In your powers of attorney, you name an agent to make decisions on your behalf. In your health care power of attorney, you choose someone to make your medical decisions if you are unable to make them yourself.
If your medical and end-of-life wishes are tailored around your faith or other values, I suggest naming an agent who shares those same values. It’s also wise to put your wishes in writing and to discuss them with your agent. This way, if the time comes, they are aware of your wishes and can act accordingly.
Some planning options that may be influenced by your faith and values include medication and procedures, care in certain facilities, wishes if you have a termination illness or are in a permanent vegetative state, or organ donation. In your durable power of attorney for finances, you name an agent who manages your finances. I suggest naming an agent who shares your same financial values.
Sometimes your decision to be buried or cremated revolves around your faith, as well as your wishes for your memorial service. These wishes should all be written down and kept in a safe place for your family to easily find. I suggest discussing these wishes with your loved ones ahead of time, and letting them know where to find the written details.
Preplanning your memorial is a great idea, too, which can save your loved ones the stress of making those difficult decisions during a time of grief.
If you have any aspects of your faith or values that are important to incorporate into your estate plan, talk over your options with an estate planning attorney to ensure your wishes are fulfilled and your legacy is passed on to the next generation.