July 12th, 2016
By Father Anthony Giampietro
This is the third in a series by Basilian Father Anthony Giampietro, archdiocese development director, on topics related to personal planning, especially estate planning. Father Giampietro’s goal is to provide up-to-date information for you and your loved ones as you plan for the future. The first article, “Planning ahead is a great gift to loved ones,” appeared in the May 26 issue. The second, “About trusts,” appeared June 9.
In the first article in this series, I mentioned the importance of naming persons who can act on your behalf when you are no longer able to make medical or financial decisions for yourself. It is important to note that the person you empower to make medical decisions will not necessarily be the same person you empower for financial decisions. For example, one of your children or friends may simply have more expertise and experience in one area or another. It is essential that in each case you choose an individual you think will best represent your wishes. This can be difficult, especially if the person you name is not someone you might be expected to name. Your eldest child might seem like a natural choice, for example, but he or she may not be as well suited as someone else.
When selecting your health care representative, it is important that he or she be aware of the principles of our Catholic faith. For example, the state of California now allows euthanasia, something which is very much contrary to Catholic teaching. While we ought not be “kept alive at all costs,” it is always wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being. Many persons now fear being kept alive by machines rather than being allowed to die, and this can be a legitimate concern. This is why it is important to be aware of the reasons for our Catholic teachings and also to be aware of how to apply these teachings appropriately in difficult situations. There is much valuable literature available on this topic. For now I will point you to the Advance Health Care Directive that I mentioned in my first article. It can be found at SFArch.org/directive. Please contact me if you would like to receive a copy in the mail.
Naming an appropriate person to handle your financial affairs is also of great importance. Your will and trust should be very clear as to how you would like your assets to be distributed. However, for most of us, there will come a time when we are no longer really competent to make our own finance and estate related decisions. This is why a Durable Power of Attorney is needed. It is one of those documents that your lawyer will help you prepare as you put your affairs in order. It is a great source of peace to everyone involved when your wishes are clear and when you have specified those who are empowered to act on your behalf. Please consider today how you can begin the process of putting things in order, if you have not done so already.
As we did in the spring, this fall we will hold personal planning seminars on end of life bioethical decisions, cemetery and funeral planning, and estate planning. These seminars will take place on Sept. 10, Sept. 17, Oct. 22 and Oct. 29. The announcements detailing the specific locations and times of these seminars will be posted in the Catholic San Francisco and your parish bulletins in August.
Please call or email the Office of Development if there are particular topics about which you would like to have more information. Have a wonderful summer!
Basilian Father Giampietro is director of development for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Contact him at (415) 614-5580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
From July 14, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.