There are nearly 70 million Catholics living in America. That's about one in every five Americans. Approximately 55% of these Catholics will die without a Will or any Estate Planning arrangements stipulating the importance of their religious values. That's nearly 40 millions Catholics!
Catholic religious issues are too often overlooked in Estate Planning. Beyond leaving legacies to the Church, your local parish, a Catholic school, or ministry, there are many other Catholic Estate Planning considerations.
Below you will find the 7 Steps for Catholic Estate Planning. This article begins with a simple Catholic Estate Planning Checklist ...
After that, we will go a few steps deeper, too. Many people hear the term Estate Planning and can’t help but yawn. When they attempt to read about the topic, they struggle to focus. The stress starts to build ... We will cover all this in nice, bite-size nuggets.
Future articles will also examine each aspect of Catholic Estate Planning, both legal and financial. Financial aspects include retirement, insurance, and taxes. The legal aspects of Catholic Estate Planning include the following:
All the above aspects of Estate Planning can be tailored to Catholic values. Even small changes can make a tremendous impact to Catholics, their heirs, and the causes they believes in.
Estate Planning: A Christian's Most Important Act of Stewardship
71% of Americans say having a well-crafted estate plan would help them feel like a better spouse or parent. Why spend your life building up and working towards financial freedom only to lose it later in life simply for lack of planning?
Worse yet, why should your wealth, large or small die with you, when it could serve your heirs and your Church, feeding, clothing, and sheltering the needy? Such waste!
For Christians, Estate Planning may be the most important act of stewardship we will ever undertake.
First off, Let's Define "Estate Planning"
Your Estate is all of the assets and liabilities you have acquired during your life and at the time of your death. The point of Estate Planning is secure the maximum benefit from your resources now, at retirement or disability, and after death, as well.
People once regarded estate planning as only for the wealthy. Today, anyone who owns anything should develop a plan.
Estate Planning is the best way to pass your assets to family members, the Church, particular ministries, and others during life and at death, with minimum losses in taxes.
Here's the central question: Would you rather leave your estate to your heirs and the Church or the government?
Now, for those 7 Steps for Catholic Stewardship, Planned Giving, and Estate Planning:
7 Steps for Catholic Estate Planning
The following are steps you can take to start properly managing your estate. You can start all of these today.
Successful Estate Planning develops a long-term stewardship program which actively manages personal and business assets for this and future generations.
7 Steps Catholic Estate Planning - Infographic
Families and Catholic Estate Planning
Did you know 55% of people do not even have a Will? A Will is the most basic part of Estate Planning. A properly-written Will can spare your loved ones from unnecessary family squabbles.
Families are making Estate Planning a higher priority. You have the opportunity to discover God’s overall plan of stewardship for your life and family.
Through effective Estate Planning, you can make decisions today which will positively impact the future generations of your family. AND, a well-crafted legacy or endowment to your Church parish or local Catholic school may impact even more lives for the greater glory of God.
NEXT: Legal Aspects of Catholic Estate Planning
The legal aspects of Catholic Estate Planning include the following:
Catholic Estate Planning Footnotes:
 Adapted from Financial Freedom, More Than Being Debt-Free by Patrick Clements, as well adapted by Church Extension Plan.
Student Loan Debt: Are Student Loans and Student Debt Dischargeable in Bankruptcy?
As an attorney, I work with a lot of people with student loan debt. Who doesn't have some student loan debt, right? I find there are a lot of misconceptions about what bankruptcy can do for your student loan debt.
The general rule in bankruptcy is that a debtor cannot discharge student loans. Discharge is basically wiping away the debt. There are exceptions.
Discharging Student Loan Debt: Exceptions
Here's the first major exception to the general rule that student loan debt cannot be discharged, cannot be wiped away: undue hardship. The debtor would have to prove undue hardship to the court. This can be financial, medical, etc. This is typically a very difficult standard to meet in most courts.
Here's the second major exception category for student loan debts. Not every debt to a college or university is student loan debt. Therefore, not every debt to a college or university is excepted from discharge. There are other kinds of debts, like unpaid tuition or bookstore fees. These are typically phrased as "accounts receivable." These may qualify for discharge during bankruptcy.
Student Loan Debt: What does the bankruptcy law say?
Bankruptcy law favors discharging debts and giving a debtor a fresh start. Therefore, the bankruptcy discharge is very broad. Consequently, exceptions to discharge are treated very narrowly.
Congress has identified the following debts as non-dischargeable, i.e. permanent or can't wipe away, under Bankruptcy Chapters 7, 11, 12, or 13:
Besides Student Loan Debt, what other Student Debt is Non-Dischargeable in Bankruptcy?
This is the gray-ish area. That means this is typically where your bankruptcy attorney and your creditor's attorney get involved.
Need a translation of the law above? Here you go. Non-loan Student debt which is non-dischargeable (can't wipe it away in bankruptcy) includes the following:
So, the signing of a promissory note is key. A promissory note is basically a contract you sign for the school including the magic words, I "promise to pay" the school. More specifically, a promissory note is an agreement signed on or about the time you start classes, providing for a definitive amount to be repaid, in specified installments, by a certain time, and at a certain interest rate.
What's the bottom line? If you attend classes without paying or signing a promissory note, you likely can discharge this debt in bankruptcy. The same principle applies to debts at the student union, gym, bookstore, and room and board debts.
You may need a bankruptcy attorney to get rid of non-loan student debt
Your bankruptcy attorney can help you decide whether to fight a certain debt or not. The determination of whether a debt is dischargeable in bankruptcy is usually a complicated matter. Your bankruptcy attorney can explain to you how the local bankruptcy court will analyze the debt and the likely conclusion.
Any more questions? Probably so! Feel free to comment below. Remember to share this article, too! If you're wondering about this situation, odds are your friends are, too!
Are you inadvertently buying life insurance to an anti-Christian company? Are trusting your life savings and retirement to an immoral company? Are you worried that your money might be accidentally supporting abortion? Check out the list of top anti-Christian life insurance and financial companies below.
Be careful where your money goes! None of us want to invest our future in a company without a conscience. No good can come from this, financially or otherwise.
There's something terribly ironic about an anti-life life insurance company, isn't there? The following list will help you avoid contributing to this irony.
Here is your list of anti-Christian and anti-life insurance and financial companies. The rankings of offenders is based on size and influence. Please be sure to comment below if the list is missing any particular malefactor.
#1. Aetna - Illegally Pro-Abortion
Aetna was recently fined $4.5 million by the State of Missouri for illegally funding elective abortions. Aetna's fine represents the largest fine to an insurance company in state history! Not only that, it's Aetna second such fine in the last three years. One more fine and Aetna will lose its license to sell insurance in Missouri.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg, unfortunately. Aetna has also violated state laws by refusing to allow employers to opt out of contraceptive coverage.
Also, while happy to fund abortions and birth control, Aetna refuses to pay for diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. Again, this violates the laws of multiple states.
Jay Nixon, the Governor of Missouri, had the following to say about Aetna: “This [fine] demonstrates that we will hold Aetna or any other insurance company responsible to the people of this state – particularly children with autism disorders – to provide the coverage the law requires.”
Aetna's elective abortion coverage also pays for the abortifacient RU-486 (also called mifepristone or Mifeprex). According to its own website, Aetna considers this abortifacient "medically necessary" even into the second trimester.
#2. New York Life Insurance Company ... more like New York Anti-Life
New York Life is a corporate partner of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), which fully promotes an anti-Christian view of marriage and sexuality. New York Life actually penned an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). New York Life also sponsors the LA LGBT Center, which advocates for the Equality Act. The Equality Act includes sweeping sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) protections at the federal level, completely undermining First Amendment protections for religious liberty.
Also according to 2nd Vote, New York Life matches gifts to New York City chapter of the Susan Komen foundation, which continues to fund Planned Parenthood.
The New York Life Insurance Company is one of the largest mutual life-insurance companies in America, as well as one of the largest life insurers in the world. It is the parent company of both MainStay Investments and the Candriam Investors Group.
#3. Prudential Financial ... not a prudent choice
As far as attacking religious freedom, Prudential deserve a higher ranking. Prudential Financial receives low marks for all the following:
Prudential Financial donates heavily to pro-abortion organizations. In particular, Prudential Financial donates to Planned Parenthood and participates in gift matching. Prudential also contributes to a number of other pro-abortion organizations:
Prudential Financial sells financial products relating to life insurance, retirement, and investments. Prudential Financial is also the parent company of Bache & Company and Pruco.
#4. Nationwide ... is NOT on the Christian side
Nationwide Financial is a big supported of the YWCA. YWCA, despite having "Christian" in its name, heavily supports abortion and same-sex marriage. Like Prudential above, Nationwide is also a corporate sponsor of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and Human Rights Campaign, which both oppose religious liberty.
#5. Hartford Financial Services
The Hartford is a corporate partner to the Urban League. The Urban League, along with the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus, advocates for abortion specifically among black communities. Such advocacy has had a tragic effect on black populations. In New York City and specifically Harlem, it is more likely for a black child to be aborted than born.
Also, like Nationwide Financial above, The Hartford supports the YWCA, the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), and the Human Rights Campaign, which both oppose religious liberty.
“The intellectual nature of the human person is perfected by wisdom and needs to be, for wisdom gently attracts the mind of man to a quest and a love for what is true and good. Steeped in wisdom. man passes through visible realities to those which are unseen. Our era needs such wisdom more than bygone ages if the discoveries made by man are to be further humanized. For the future of the world stands in peril unless wiser men are forthcoming. It should also be pointed out that many nations, poorer in economic goods, are quite rich in wisdom and can offer noteworthy advantages to others.”
Gaudium Et Spes, Paragraph 15
A major trend in today’s economics is the importance of Socially Responsible Investing. The blending of entrepreneurial spirit with care for the common good is making waves across many aspects of culture in the United States.
Socially Responsible Investing, or SRI as abbreviated here on, is being spoken of and acted upon more every day. But what is the phenomena, and why is it gaining popularity?
My brief opinion will touch two key points, and then outline how these desires can be guided with the investing principles of the Catholic Church and direction from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
1. A growing awareness of need in the world.
With the mediums of instant information, we now have access to knowledge of endless opportunities for charity. Every swipe of the thumb presents a new situation that needs attention. A country is being exploited and its citizens need refuge, a town is hit with a large senseless act of violence and needs support, families in other parts of the world need supplies to have sufficient shelter.
The list could go on, but the point being is if you have trouble finding an opportunity to serve or give . . . you must be living under a rock.
2. The desire to make an impact on the world.
Gen X, Y, and millennials have been raised on the encouragement “You can be whatever you want to be.” and as more and more people enter the workforce, more and more are becoming restless. Several major articles highlight that the movement within millennials is that they work for purpose VS working simply for a paycheck.
This is easily noticed with the norm of changing college majors frequently, young people choosing career fields that do not pay high-median salaries, and even choosing a career later in life in order to feel some fulfillment in their choice. Hedonism is falling as young people see its vanity. Affirming other persons and their dignity is slowly taking the reigns of how young people live their lives.
“In the economic and social realms, too, the dignity and complete vocation of the human person and the welfare of society as a whole are to be respected and promoted. For man is the source, the center, and the purpose of all economic and social life.”
Gaudium Et Spes, Chapter III Economic and Social Life, Paragraph 63
Pope Paul VI summed up this innate desire with these words: “This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” Gaudium Et Spes, Paragraph 24.
With the economic system being so contiguous, the movement of SRI has become easily accessible. Movements such as Fair Trade, Micro Finance, and Sustainable Investing all have the goal of positive societal impact.
Several cultural factors influence how people use their financial resources and are the key driver in SRI. This can be motivated by a person not supporting large corporations which could lead them to spend their money in local stores. A company can take a political stance on an issue and consumers will choose to either support them or not by their shopping habits. Many new businesses will have a sponsor charity that they donate a portion of profits, or the culture/model of profit sharing with employees or key clients.
“A similar lack of economic and social balance is to be noticed between agriculture, industry, and the services, and also between different parts of one and the same country. The contrast between the economically more advanced countries and other countries is becoming more serious day by day, and the very peace of the world can be jeopardized thereby.”
Gaudium Et Spes, Paragraph 63
The USCCB lays out 6 points of focus to consider when investing in companies and incorporating SRI. Each point is supported with points from encyclicals, historic teaching, observed historical impacts, as well as other supporting rhetoric.
Now each of these points can be broken down into sub-categorical conversations. Later articles will address each point in detail. Even if you are not a practicing Catholic, the aim of these six points is the good of all human persons and can easily be adopted into your desire for SRI.
Whether through fair trade, profit sharing companies, or any other notable SRI initiative, the guidelines of the USCCB are a great framework to guide your conscience when considering how to spend or invest your financial resources.
Please share and comment below! What are your questions on this topic?
Gaudium Et Spes
USCCB Guidelines for Socially Responsible Investments
3 things millennials want in a career (hint: it’s not more money)
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