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Idaho Estate Planning Estate Planning and Your Religion

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

When most people think about estate planning, they aren’t thinking about religion. Rather, the topics usually revolve around legal issues, and issues related to family. However, you can’t separate a person from their character or personality when you are creating an estate plan for them. As an Idaho estate planning attorney, I have seen many people I have worked with in getting their estate planning done take into consideration not only their family members, their circumstances, and their own goals but also their religion as part of the decision-making process. As a result of this, we don’t usually ask an individual with their religion is, but we have created our Estate Planning Questionnaire and the discussion we have after that with our clients in a way that allows our clients to consider their religion as part of their estate planning process. The main reason for this is to allow our clients to customize their own estate plan to meet their own particular circumstances and needs.

As the premier Idaho estate planning Law Firm, our team of Attorneys at the Racine Olson law office, work to customize an estate plan for each of our clients. Our goal is to avoid using a cookie cutter approach. Rather, we make sure that our client’s intentions and goals are carried out in their estate plan. We have helped numerous individuals throughout the state of Idaho create their own custom estate plan to meet their own particular needs and circumstances. We are confident that we can help you do the same.

The purpose of this article is to talk about how religion can affect the decisions that you make when you are creating your own personal estate plan. Rather than trying to avoid these types of things, we encourage our clients to embrace their culture, their religion, and their own personal circumstances when they’re creating their estate plan. Ultimately, there is state plan should reflect who they are, and it should carry out their specific intentions and goals.

End of Life Medical Decisions

One of the most important areas of estate planning that is affected by religion is when our clients make end-of-life medical decisions. This is accomplished through the living will estate planning document that we help customize for each of our clients. This document gives our clients the ability to give specific instructions to their doctors and other healthcare providers about what they do and what they do not want to have happen, if they are in a circumstance where they are on life support.

A living will is a legal document providing specific end of life instructions that doctors and healthcare providers must follow when the following circumstances exist: (1) the client is unconscious or is otherwise unable to communicate with the doctors ; (2) the client has been diagnosed with an injury or an illness that is terminal; (3) the doctors and healthcare providers have indicated that there is no treatment, medicine, or procedure that can be done to change the circumstances for our client; (4) the client is placed on a life support system of some sort; and (5) the doctors have indicated that if the life-support system is turned off, the paint the client will likely pass away quickly.

Obviously, a person’s religious beliefs are going to have an effect on the end-of-life decisions our clients may make for themselves. Our goal in providing this estate planning document to our client is simply to explain the options that exist, to answer their questions about what choices and options they have, and then to help them make those decisions in a way that will be clear and understandable by their doctors and other healthcare providers.

Charitable Giving

Another area that is often affected by a person’s religion is their desire to make charitable gifts to religious institutions. Regardless of whether this is a gift that is given while they are alive, or is a gift that will be given through their last will and testament or through their trust, our goal in helping our clients complete their estate planning documents is to discuss this option and give our clients the ability to make a decision about whether they do or do not want to make these types of charitable gifts.

For some people, charitable giving is a goal they have while they are alive. The reasoning may be solely tied to religion, or it may also have tax implications as well. Regardless of the reason, we provide legal instruction and guidance to our clients on how charitable giving can be accomplished in a way that will meet their specific goals.

Distributing Estate Assets

Another way that religion may play into a person’s decisions as they are creating their own estate planning, has to do with distributing their estate assets after they have passed away. For most people, they will be focusing on Distributing their assets to their family and loved ones. However, similar to the charitable giving described above, and individual made make a specific bequest or gift to their church, or to a religious organization, or for a specific religious purpose. We work with each Clyde individually and discuss what it is they may want to accomplish in distributing their estate after they have passed away. This discussion includes their religion and religious organization and any gifts they may want to make.

Additionally, we always talk to our clients about what gifts they would give if all of their family and loved ones that they would normally give their estate to our god. In other words, we talked with our clients about having a final contingent gift to be given so that there is no way that their estate could ever end up in the hands of the government. When we discussed this our clients often use their Church, or their religion, or a religious purpose as the final beneficiary of their estate in the event all the other beneficiaries they’ve named predeceased them.

We have helped numerous clients consider their own religion or religious affiliations when it comes to their own estate planning. If you have questions or concerns about your religion and how this plays into your own estate planning, we are confident that we can help you too.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation. You can also email us directly at or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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