The recent 10-day visit by the Pope Francis attracted large crowds and television viewers who were mesmerized by his presence and his message. Nearly every facet of his visit was a tribute to his idea of Catholic values, including his interaction with inmates and the disabled. There are approximately 70 million Catholics residing in the United States, or about 1 in 5 Americans, many of whom wish to incorporate religious values into their estate plan.
Religious values become especially significant when confronting a crisis, such as a terminal illness or the imminent loss of a loved one. Every element of a plan, including those pertaining to finance, retirement, insurance and death, can be modified to include Catholic values that figure prominently in a client’s life. Clients can begin by composing a personal letter of instruction to their heirs, fiduciaries and other parties impacted by the plan. The letter can be addressed to a trustee, and can contain, for example, directions as to how you would like your children to be raised.
If you would like your religious values to be integrated in your estate plan, you should choose fiduciaries who can implement your wishes. You may choose guardians to care for your children, the schools that you would prefer that your children attend and the neighborhoods that you think are suitable for your children to be reared.
Clients are advised to think carefully about the selection of trustees, trust protectors and those in other fiduciary capacities so as to ensure that the trustee, for instance, uses the trust funds to instill the values and encourage the kind of lifestyle that you desire for your children. The trust should be drafted with enough flexibility to allow the trustee to make decisions concerning your heirs that are aligned with your values.
If you would like to learn more about how to incorporate your religious values into your estate plan, you should consult an estate planning attorney.