It has always amazed me that no matter how much we have talked and written about wills, trusts, and other estate planning strategies over the years, there is always a fun new wrinkle to add to the conversation. Take Ethical Wills, for example.
While different from traditional estate planning, which focuses almost exclusively on transferring assets, reducing taxes, and reducing administrative costs, an ethical will allows you to share your personal values, life lessons, family history, family traditions, expectations for the future, hopes and dreams, and even personal religious and spiritual beliefs.
If you are like most of the clients here at Leigh Hilton PLLC, you probably didn’t think you would need to worry about such things in a will. But as I explained in my book, Who Gets Your Stuff When You Die, an ethical will can be a valuable influence on your family when done right. Drafting one may seem like a monumental task, but it is equally as important as all the nitty-gritty traditional stuff as you seek to protect everyone you love and everything you own.
The Ethical Will: What’s included?
The neat part about all wills and trusts is that they are designed to think of everything. And ethical wills are certainly no exception, as the goal is to convey to your family and friends as much as humanely possible while you still can. This document can be written at various stages in life, and you can amend it at any time.
An ethical will allows you to do any of the following:
- Provide a personal story of your unique lifetime and what you have experienced
- Create an exhaustive list of what you believe and why you believe it
- Recognize those who have contributed to your life; express how you feel about your family and friends
- Share your health history to inform descendants of potential health issues they could face.
- Facilitate closure for your loved ones
- Convert personal experiences into life lessons
- Provide incentives for behaviors you want to encourage (staying off drugs, getting a college degree, etc.)
While not a legal document, anyone who has been the recipient of such a thoughtful gift can tell you how special and inspiring it is to have such a treasure trove of personal and family information that can be available for future generations. Ethical wills have been written by couples who are engaged, women and men who are welcoming newborns into their lives, families who are growing, middle-aged singles, and married couples. They have also been written by individuals facing terminal or life-threatening illnesses.
If you have not created an ethical will yet, the best time to start working on one is now.
Call Leigh Hilton PLLC today!!
A competent estate planner familiar with wills and different kinds of trusts and benefits is a valuable partner. Please call Leigh Hilton PLLC so that we can help ensure your children are taken care of in the best way possible. Leigh Hilton PLLC wants to be your first call every time for any estate planning need. We look forward to serving you.
Thanks for reading!