Catholic San Francisco


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Planning ahead is a great gift to loved ones
May 24th, 2016
By Father Anthony Giampietro

Over the next few months, Basilian Father Anthony Giampietro, director of development for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, will write a series of articles on topics related to personal planning, especially estate planning. His goal is to provide up-to-date information for you and your loved ones as you plan for the future.

Earlier this year, the development office hosted four seminars to address common questions and concerns about end of life decisions and planning. There were three brief presentations at each seminar, on bioethical decisions, funeral and burial planning, and estate planning.

In my presentation on bioethics, I reviewed the Advance Health Care Directive recommended by the archdiocese ( The directive includes basic information about the Catholic approach to death and dying, and provides a legally recognized way to designate someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf when you are no longer capable of doing so yourself. The directive helps to ensure that patients will receive care that is in keeping with our faith. Created by God, our lives are in a fundamental sense not our own. While we should not be “kept alive at all costs,” we should never be intentionally put to death.

Monica Williams, director of Catholic cemeteries, spoke about the process of planning a funeral service. She recommended using a planning booklet called the “Pre-Need Arrangement Planner.” This provides the reader with forms and a step-by-step process for planning one’s funeral and burial. Planning ahead is a great gift to loved ones, freeing them up from many of the practical decisions that might otherwise cause extra stress. Copies of the planner are available through the Cemeteries Department and may be requested through their website:

The estate planning presentations were covered by Sister Gemma O’Keeffe, RSM, and Maureen McFadden. Both are well established attorneys in San Francisco. Many of the attendees knew of the importance of having both a will and a trust (especially if one’s estate is over $150,000). However, some did not realize that one’s documents should be reviewed around every three years, in case there are changes in the law or changes in one’s wishes. Other important topics included: having a durable power of attorney (designating someone you trust to make financial and other decisions on your behalf), and where to place important documents (make sure they are secure and that someone you trust has access to them).

Both lawyers stressed the importance of creating a trust and naming a durable power of attorney. Doing so will reduce the complications and expenses that might otherwise be associated with settling an estate.

We received very positive feedback about the presentations, and we are scheduling additional seminars for the fall. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me if you have questions or would like more information about any of these topics.

Call Father Giampietro at (415) 614-5582 or email

From May 26, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


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