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Religion and Estate Planning

Religion and Estate Planning

By: Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, JD

Easter, Passover – A good Time to Mention Religion and Estate Planning Holidays bring religious feelings to the fore and that is a great reminder for estate planning where too often religious considerations are completely ignored. Religion, if important to you, should be an integral part of the estate and financial planning process. Consider the following:

  • If you have a religious, philosophical or social oriented view of life that can and should be reflected in your investment planning. If you abstain from alcohol then bars, liquor manufacturers and others promoting its use can be omitted from your portfolio. Investigate socially or religiously oriented funds.
  • If charitable giving is part of your religious view, and is for most if not all faiths, imbue your planning with charitable giving values. Perhaps authorize, or even mandate, that an agent under a power of attorney, and a trust under trusts you form make minimum specified charitable gifts. If this is not expressly addressed tax and legal considerations may prevent these fiduciaries from giving to charity.
  • Set up a charitable plan now to benefit charities important to you to demonstrate your commitment to your heirs.
  • Everyone, age 18 and over, should have a living will, a statement of health care wishes. Be sure yours details your religious beliefs as they affect medical decision making. Also be sure that burial, funeral and list rites be specified so your wishes are known.
  • Your will should reflect religious values. This can include charitable giving, bequests and distributions that comport with religious mandates for inheritance, and more. Importantly, be sure your will reflects and speaks to your faith.

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