June 2017Volume 8Number 3PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)

Powers of attorney, living wills, advance directives and religion

When preparing such estate planning documents for clients, it is imperative that the attorney inform the client that what these documents say and do can be tailored to the client’s personal needs, wishes, desires and directions. In that regard, the client must know that she or he can include directions to the agent and service providers, to make decisions and act in ways that do not offend or contradict the religious principles and beliefs of the client. I recently reviewed a Health Care Proxy form and an Advance Medical Directive form that the Roman Catholic Church approved. Those estate planning documents look similar to generic powers of attorney and living wills, but also contain clear and specific references to religious doctrine and publications, which the client can direct the agent to follow. Other religious denominations may have their own suggested or recommended language to consider.

Providing this type of information to the client can certainly aid the client in choosing the client’s agent, and also show how detailed the client can be in creating estate planning documents. The client will likely appreciate the explanation that personal preferences and wishes can be honored and incorporated into these types of documents.

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