For some, incorporating religious beliefs in their estate plan is an important aspect of the project, even beyond the financial considerations and other practical concerns. There are a number of ways the law allows you to incorporate your beliefs and other steps you can take to direct your funds according to your preferences.
End of Life Care
When you’re putting together an estate plan, your attorney will help you fill out the standard forms that indicate to the hospital your end of life care preferences. These include whether to use extraordinary measures to save your life, whether to keep you on life support, and more. They also indicate whether you’re willing to be an organ donor. If you are no longer able to voice your preferences to the doctors, this document will guide the hospital staff and anyone you choose to hold a medical power of attorney on how you want them to make decisions.
Planning Your Funeral
Your estate can provide explicit instructions on how you want your funeral arranged. You can indicate whether you would prefer to be buried, cremated, or donated to a research organization, where you want to be interred, and more. Your heirs are responsible for carrying out your last wishes to the extent that they’re possible to do. Addressing these questions ahead of time and indicating your preferences can save your family stress and frustration due to uncertainty on how to honor your legacy or disputes over what you would really want.
Giving to Charity
As part of your estate plan, you can make bequests to charities and others as guided by your religious beliefs. You can even leave your entire estate to charity, though doing so will require clear planning and execution to write the normal beneficiaries out of your will.
While there are other steps you may want to take to try and place your religious beliefs into your estate, you’ll want to discuss these in detail with your estate lawyer to determine whether they’re truly practical or effective. Trying to use your funds to force your religious preferences on your family, for example, can often lead to a costly battle over your estate plan and rarely changes any actual beliefs. While you may want to indicate that a trust will pay for your grandchild’s education so long as they attend a particular religious school, you’re undermining the parent’s ability to make a decision based on what’s best for the child.
You can instead provide guidance for the trustee, but leave them some leeway to make decisions that take into account special circumstances or the consequences of a particular decision. By naming as the trustee of a trust someone who shares your religious beliefs, you are more likely to be able to have those beliefs guide your trust and thus your funds, while creating less discontent among your heirs.
At Dunn Law Firm, we want to make sure your estate plan is comprehensive and includes all the details necessary to ensure your legacy is honored in the way you desire. We will advise you on how best to structure your estate to meet your goals. To learn more, reach out to the Dunn Law Firm by calling (435) 628-5405 to set up a free consultation today.