Do I Need an Ethical Will?

An inheritance is often more than just assets.

If you want to be remembered as the person who made sure your heirs had all the information they needed about what you wanted, for funeral arrangements as well as what to do with Great Aunt Joan’s diamond bracelet, you might want to consider writing an ethical will.

25240245194_9cde86a5e5_oAn inheritance is often more than just assets. Family heirlooms, art, treasures from global adventures and stories, are also things that families share. When you prepare an ethical will, sometimes known as a “living letter” or a “legacy letter,” you give your children the ability to know what you want them to do with your belongings, and why.

Investment News’recent article, “Advisers use ethical wills to look beyond client assets,”says that a legacy letter helps the writer explain to younger generations his or her reasons for setting up the will in a certain way and what they hope to accomplish through the estate plan. In writing the letter, the donor is also adding to the probability that his or her wishes will be followed.

Some don’t like the term ethical will and prefer to call it a legacy letter.  However, the purpose is the same. Regardless of what it's called, the ethical will is simply a letter.

It’s not a binding legal document.  It is often written to accompany a formal will.

An ethical will can help uncover character assets and the values that a person holds dear. It can explain that what they have to pass on to loved ones, can be much more valuable than finances.

Even if the letters are directions about assets, they will by their very nature be personal, and your way to send a final message to those you love. You want to share your goals for your estate, and likely, your hopes and dreams for your family when you are gone.

Reference: Investment News (June 19, 2018) “Advisers use ethical wills to look beyond client assets”

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