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Ethical WillTraditional estate plans focus almost exclusively on transferring assets, reducing taxes and reducing administrative costs. A comprehensive estate plan adds ethical wills, incentive trusts, and involves children in the process.

An ethical will is where you write down what you believe and why you believe it. It can include religious values and moral values. An ethical will can also include what you want the next generation to know about you and what lessons you want them to learn.

It is important to make sure your will or trust expresses what you value. You can add incentives for behaviors you want to encourage, like remaining off drugs, being employed, or completing a college education. I have drafted trusts that reward being gainfully employed by matching the beneficiary’s salary. They can be drafted to have drug or alcohol testing, bonuses for graduating from college, or achieving certain grades. You can reward any behavior you want to encourage.

Also, I meet with my client’s children to explain to them what the parents have set up as their estate plan and explain to them why it is set up this way. It is an opportunity to meet the children in a non-stressful situation, so they know whom to call when death or disability occurs.

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