Many of our readers are about to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. We wish those who observe a happy and healthy new year. At this time of year, those of the Jewish faith tend to reflect upon their acts during the past year and to set goals for improvements in the following year. Attorneys can provide the opportunity for one’s religious, moral and ethical values to be reflected in a final legacy, such as a Will or Trust. This post will discuss the means by which your attorney will insure that your values are properly contained within your estate documents.
Primarily, we suggest that you meet with a skilled professional , who is prepared to discuss your ethical values. The meeting should not only address the standard discussion of who should serve as fiduciaries (those named in the Will to act on behalf of the estate such as executors, trustees and guardians) and who should inherit your assets. For instance, a couple with minor children typically needs to determine who will serve as guardians to raise their children if they pass away. If religion is important to such a couple, they may want to appoint someone of the same religious background who will be instructed to continue the religious instruction and ritual observance to which the children have been accustomed. It is possible that a separate fiduciary may need to be named to handle financial matters for the children when a religiously sensitive guardian has been selected.
Discussions should be undertaken as to the distribution of assets. Authorizing a trust to distribute assets for religious education and travel, in addition to the standard education expenses, may be appropriate. Charitable matters should also be considered. If charitable giving is an important value to the client, we discuss the means by which charitable giving can be accomplished. Gifts made during lifetime typically have less significant tax consequences and the donor may be recognized personally for the contribution. However, the donor may need the assets during her lifetime and would rather part with them at a later time. Charitable trusts can also be established if appropriate. Our firm commonly coordinates with various organizations that are prepared to assist in the establishment of such charitable trusts.