Communicating Religious Values in Your Estate Plan

Providing for religious needs in your estate plan.

Estate planning documents are designed to help and provide for families at a critical time, usually upon the death or incapacity of a family member. The typical estate plan focuses on financial needs. But religious needs and the communication of religious values are also important to many of us. Your estate planning documents can be an effective means to communicate your religious and cultural values to those close to you.   This can be done in any number of ways. A few of these might be:

  1. Giving instructions to a trustee that money be provided for religious education, religious travel or a program of charitable giving.
  2. Giving instructions to a trustee to adhere to religious principals in investing estate funds.
  3. Instructions that a mechanism of dispute resolution that is religiously appropriate be used in the event of disagreement.
  4. Providing burial instructions that comply with religious principles.
  5. General instructions to adhere to religious considerations and to provide religious education for children and grandchildren.

For such a plan to work, care must be given in the selection of a successor trustee.   Just as a successor trustee who will be managing your estate must have good business and money management skills, a successor trustee who will be in charge of fostering religious and cultural values must be an individual who personally has these values. It is sometimes difficult to find a person with both skill sets. Where a person appointed as successor trustee lacks good business and financial skills, it would be prudent to consider also appointing a professional fiduciary as co-successor trustee to provide the needed money management skills.

Giving thought to all the needs of surviving family members, both financial and spiritual, and providing for both in your estate planning documents is a holistic approach to estate planning. This is another way estate planning documents can be drafted to fit specific needs.

The lawyers at Platt and Westby, P.C. have been practicing in the area of Probate, Guardianship and Estate Planning and Administration for over 40 years. Contact any of our Phoenix Probate lawyers at 602-277-4441 or use the e-mail contact utility on our website at www.plattwestby.com to schedule a no-fee initial conference concerning any matter involving Probate, Guardianship or Estate Planning. We will answer your questions and, where appropriate, suggest potential solutions.

Platt and Westby, P.C. has offices in Phoenix, Arrowhead, Avondale, Scottsdale and Gilbert, Arizona.