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People leaving funds to those who share values

Financial planners in South Florida said they are increasingly seeing people make "spiritual" decisions when writing their wills, and they also are making tough decisions about family members.

Decisions considered "spiritual" have to do with leaving money to groups or people who share a person's values. A nonprofit group that monitors bequests to charities reported an increase of 19 percent of funds going to charitable organizations.

Still, such "spiritual"-based bequests extend to family members as people decide if their children share their values, especially their financial ones.

As a result, people who live more frugally might decide to put their money in a trust to guarantee an inheritance won't be spent foolishly. By putting money in a trust, creditors or maybe even an ex-spouse will not be able to touch the money.

Experts said more people want to have control over how a recipient spends an inheritance.

Financial planners said an increasing number of South Floridians also have decided not to divide their estate equally among their children. If one child is financially well off, parents might instead choose to leave their money to their adult children who do not have as large a bank account or to one who has special needs.

Should parents decide to go that route, they should tell their children before their death why they chose to go that way. If not, the child who gets lest could resent a sibling and create a family rift down the road.

In creating the will, people also must decide how far the family tree extends. They must, for example, decide if step-children are to be included in their will or just in their spouse's.

Matters of money are complicated, and feelings can be hurt. However, feelings should not be a person's prime consideration when deciding how to bequeath their estates. The money, as these South Floridians are proving, should go to the person or group that both has a need and will spend it in a way that would please the person who passed on the money.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "'Spiritual' estate planning on rise," Donna Gehrke White, Nov. 11, 2012

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