Berman & Asbel, LLP

Philanthropic estate planning becoming popular

Financial planners are noting that there has been a recent rise in "spiritual" estate planning among baby boomers, who are seeking to ensure that their personal convictions are reflected in their wills and trusts. In the last year, according to nonprofit Charity Navigator, charities have seen a 19 percent rise in bequests.

Some financial planners are looking past the charitable aspect of these bequests, and investigating the choice as a way to be more diplomatic in the estate planning process. Blended families, second or third marriages -- these complicated family dynamics can make estate planning a more complex issue than for the more traditional, nuclear family. Step-children, for example, may feel spurned if they are not included in a step-parent's will, but should they take precedence over biological children or spouses? These issues can quickly become contentious.

Choosing to give estates over to charity can prevent these hurt feelings. People may bequeath their estates to their church, their favorite charity, their local community center, rather than to their family members. This decision, however good-natured and well-intended, ought to be discussed with the family at large to ensure that everyone is on the same page with regards to the estates in question.

Estate planning is a highly personal, and often highly complicated, issue. Every family and every estate is unique and requires a different solution. Consulting an experienced and professional estate planning attorney can help to keep the process as hassle-free as possible, while finding the best option for the family involved.

Source: The Sun Sentinel, "'Spiritual' estate planning on rise," Donne Dehrke-White, Nov. 11, 2012

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