"Spiritual" estate planning: boomers look to pass on values with their wealth

While much of estate planning focuses on ensuring our material wealth is passed on to the right people and in the right way, there is a definite spiritual component for many people. "Spiritual" estate planning is becoming particularly popular among baby boomers intent on ensuring their core values fit into their financial planning.

Bequests to charities are certainly part of the picture with spiritual estate planning, and these are up19 percent from 2010, according to Charity Navigator. But there is more to it than that. The essence of it is to leave money with a purpose. This task also encompasses how one gives money to family members.

Deciding to which of one's family members one will give money is not always easy, especially with the complex family arrangements common nowadays. Passing on financial values to children is important to many people. Those who are frugal with their money may wish to leave money in a trust to prevent children or a spouse from squandering the money or to prevent creditors or a former spouse from accessing it.

Increasingly, more people are choosing not to give equal amounts of inheritance to their surviving children, and are choosing instead to care for children that are less well-off. Those who decide to go this route should consider well the importance of communicating their estate plans to children. Doing so may be uncomfortable, but can significantly reduce the friction that arises when it comes time to settle the estate. Keeping family part of the conversation in this way is a good preventative to will contests and other hang-ups in probate court.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "'Spiritual' estate planning ensures values are passed with money," Donna Gehreke-White, November 23, 2012

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