‘Spiritual’ Estate Planning Reaches Out From Beyond The Grave

In Los Angles we tend to be trend-setters rather than followers, and it appears that estate planning is no exception. “Spiritual” estate planning is gaining followers, although many are already making their estate planning decisions with this in mind. Just what is spiritual estate planning you may ask?

Simply put, spiritual estate planning is making end-of-life and inheritance decisions based on a moral or spiritual compass. Some would say it is a beyond the grave control exercise. Others would say that it is a way to make one’s final decisions in a way that honors what is important.

There are a few ways to incorporate one’s spiritual or moral point of view into estate planning.

  • Bequest: Bequests are becoming more popular. Give to a church, charity or worthy non-profit. Bequests to charities are up 19 percent this year.
  • Use a trust: By using a trust for surviving relatives, the inheritance is protected from creditors, former spouses or other unsavory characters.
  • Unequal giving: Some adult children could benefit from more help that the others. Maybe one has special physical challenges. Perhaps one of your children struck oil. Or maybe one of your children is a drug addict who could squander any gift. It’s alright to give unequally, but sources say it is a wise idea to inform heirs ahead of time to head off any potential will dispute.

The moral of this story is that you can’t take it with you, but your beyond-the-grave opinion still matters.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “‘Spiritual’ estate planning ensures values are passed with money,” Donna Gehrke-White, Nov. 23, 2012