Some planners caution that being too
restrictive in an estate plan in an effort to pass on religious values—say,
disinheriting children who marry outside the faith—can create divisions within
a family and spark extended, costly legal battles, all while failing to have
any impact on the heirs’ beliefs. There may be better ways, these planners say,
to leave a spiritual legacy.
The holidays are a perfect time
to share and teach your values, whatever your religion, and even if you aren’t
religious at all. Accordingly, it may be important to reflect and consider what
values you might wish to impart to your heirs.
So just how do you transfer your
values and, perhaps, also religious beliefs to your heirs? This issue was taken
up by MarketWatch in an article
titled “Can you make your heirs honor your beliefs?”
Well, can you?
As a matter of fact, there are
many ways to generate legally binding caveats to any inheritance or bequest.
While you can use the force of law to require even religion-specific tests, should you?
Given that people are complex, maybe you (and they) would be better served if you seek to understand and respect that complexity whenever you consider conditioning an inheritance on certain attached strings. Not that hard and fast rules don’t have their place, but more often than not it’s the lessons “caught” and not the lessons “taught” (or forced) that have enduring impact.
For further questions regarding
the transfer of your values to your heirs, consult your estate planning
attorney for assistance.
(November 13, 2012) “Can you make your heirs honor your beliefs?”