Faith is a highly personal and individual concept. If you are one of the many people to whom faith is an integral part of their life, chances are you would like your faith to be part of your estate plan. Can you incorporate your faith into your estate plan? The answer is “yes!” It is possible to incorporate faith, religious convictions, beliefs, and values into a comprehensive estate plan. Doing so will require the assistance of an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney given the personal nature of the subject matter. Here are some ways that we have helped our clients include their faith into their estate plan.
One of the easiest ways to make sure your faith is reflected in your estate plan is to include charitable gifting in your plan. Including a direct gift of estate assets in your Last Will and Testament is the simplest option. You could leave a cash gift or a gift of real property to your church or other religious organization. However, from a tax perspective, a testamentary gift may not be the best option. Another commonly used strategy is to create a charitable trust. If you wish to accomplish two goals at once you might even create a charitable lead or charitable remainder trust which allows you to make gifts to both a charitable and a non-charitable beneficiary.
Another option is to create an incentive trust. This option is a good way to encourage a beneficiary to adopt, or continue, your faith. With an incentive trust you create trust terms that require a beneficiary to do something, or to refrain from doing something, before the beneficiary will receive distributions from the trust. In this case, for instance, you might make distributions contingent upon a beneficiary remaining active in your place of worship (church, synagogue, mosque, etc.)
An education trust can be used in a similar fashion by creating trust terms that allow the trust to pay for private school education, but only at a religious school. The trust can also be designed to cover higher education expenses for a beneficiary but only if the beneficiary chooses to pursue religious studies or something similar.
Finally, your estate plan can be used to ensure that end of life decisions are made with your faith and religious convictions in mind by including an advanced directive and a funeral and burial plan.
If you have additional questions or concerns about how best to include your faith in your estate plan contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.