Charitable gifts can be a significant benefit to a parish, a school, or any other entity or ministry in the archdiocese. All gifts are charitable contributions, so they provide an important tax benefit to parishioners as part of their estate planning (see
Unrestricted or Undesignated Donations to a Parish and Restricted or Designated Donations and Funds). The archdiocese
Trust and Estate Programs can assist in the development of charitable gifts. It is important to encourage the faithful to think of the archdiocese in any estate planning they may do. One of the simplest steps is including a reminder in the parish weekly bulletin asking whether the parishioners have remembered their parish or school in their planning. Another is acknowledging with gratitude any gift received.Sometimes a parishioner will ask the parish or the archdiocese to pay for the lawyer to create a parishioner's will or trust because it includes a charitable gift. Generally the request should be respectfully declined because it creates a conflict of interest. The parish can refer the parishioner to the archdiocesan
Office of the Legal Counsel for an explanation.
Charitable gifts to a parish should be designated as follows: "to the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, a corporation sole, fbo [insert name of parish]."Charitable gifts to a school should be designated as follows: "to the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, a corporation sole, fbo [insert name of school]."Clergy are sometimes asked to act as executors or successor trustees of parishioner's wills or trusts. These requests should be declined or referred to the archdiocesan
Office of the Legal Counsel because the responsibilities often create conflicts of interest between the parish and the family. Clergy may serve as an executor for a family member but should consult the
Office of the Vicar for Clergy before accepting any such designation.
Clergy should also be alert to possible claims of financial
elder abuse raised by family or friends of a senior who has made a significant charitable gift to a parish or school. If any financial elder abuse is suspected, clergy should immediately contact the archdiocese
Office of the Legal Counsel. Clergy are designated as
mandatory reporters who must immediately notify local law enforcement of suspected elder abuse.
Parishioners and clergy seeking assistance with basic estate planning documents may consider an advance health care directive. This
Advance Health Care Directive document, which follows
Catholic teaching on euthanasia, allows a person to select an agent for health care decisions and disposition of remains. California law also provides a
Uniform Statutory Form Power of Attorney, which parishioners and clergy may consider in order to direct an agent for financial decision-making.