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Estate planning and religious beliefs: What to do?

There are many reasons that a person seeks to create an estate plan in Nevada. Often, the reasons include detailing the wishes of the person doing the estate planning for the distribution of their assets. A good plan may also include any detailed information on the end-of-life decisions as well.

Some that are considering estate planning in Nevada also wish to address and honor their religious beliefs. These inclusions are often intended to dictate that a beneficiary be of a certain faith or act in a specific manner in order to receive an inheritance. But some authorities say that this estate planning decision can lead to costly and potentially divisive litigation in some cases.

Some wills that include language restricting inheritances based on the faith of the heirs' spouses can lead to family discord. After the death of the person doing the estate planning, hard feelings can understandably emerge when one child is disinherited due to religious beliefs. Though courts have upheld such clauses in wills and other estate planning documents as long as they do not encourage divorce, such clauses can affect family relationships.

When engaged in estate planning, it may do well for a person to consider all aspects of their spiritual and financial life. Some say the creation of a trust may be a better approach when considering the inclusion of religious restrictions. In that manner, discretion can be given to the trustee to resolve issues as they develop that both honor the intentions of the decedent and also strive to preserve peace in the family.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Joining Church and Estate," Rachel Emma Zimmerman, April 30, 2012

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