Estate planning is much more than deciding how to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries. Estate planning involves everything you would want your survivors to do and how you would wish them to do those things. For example, you should include the issue of religion in your estate plans. Below are some of the ways to handle religion during estate planning.

Don't Ignore Religion

Don't ignore religion, even if you are not religious. The issue of religion can easily divide your loved ones. For example, one of your children might insist on a religious burial that puts them at loggerheads with other members of the family. Therefore, even if you are not religious, state so in your will — don't ignore it and leave your loved ones guessing.

Choose a Religious Fiduciary

If you are religious, then you should choose a religious fiduciary. Ideally, the fiduciary should have the same religious leanings that you want your estate to follow. For example, the trustee in charge of your children's trust funds should be aware of and willing to follow your preferred religion. If that is not possible, then choose a co-trustee (even an institution can do) so that the two can help each other in matters of religion.  

Clarify End-of-Life Care

Some of the most important aspects of estate planning involve end-of-life care. Most religious organizations have strong opinions on things like life support systems or resuscitation. For example, the Anglican Church opposes physician-assisted dying while other religions don't oppose the idea. Be clear on which direction you want your survivors to follow for you.

Provide Direction in Last Rites

In addition to end-of-life care, many forms of religion also have directions for funerals and burials. The directions can be more of general guidance or quite specific. For example, the Missouri Synod (a traditional Lutheran denomination) encourages but does not insist on organ donation. Jehovah's Witnesses, on the other hand, discourage the practice even though they all leave the final decision to the individual. Give your survivors the direction to follow for your last rites.  

Provide Resources for Religious Education

Lastly, if you have minor children, you should specify the kind of religion you want them to follow — if any. The children's guardian or trustee should be aware of your preferences. You can even leave money specifically for helping the children receive relevant religious education.

Note that whatever you include in your estate plans has to adhere to your state's estate planning laws. Convey your ideas to your estate planning lawyer to ensure that is the case.

To learn more, contact a resource like the Skeen Law Offices.