Unlike regular wills or trusts, which define how assets are conveyed to heirs, an ethical will conveys intangible values and guidance to one's family. Consider writing an ethical will - also known as a legacy letter - for six reasons.
As we age we do not just accumulate property that needs to be passed on to future generations. We also accumulate life lessons and wisdom that would be helpful to pass on too.
Ethical wills are not a new concept. They have their roots in ancient Jewish tradition. They also resemble the time honored tradition of writing words of wisdom for future generations.
Recently, Life Health Pro published a list of reasons that people should consider ethical wills titled, "6 reasons every advisor needs an ethical will."
The list includes:
- To provide a vehicle by which you can leave something behind and be remembered.
- Document history and stories from which others can learn.
- To help clarify your values before you pass them on.
- Increase your own self-awareness and understanding.
- Allows you to accept past mistakes and come to terms with your own mortality.
- Gives you a sense of completion and accomplishment.
If those sound like goals that you are interested in, then you should consider making an ethical will a part of your estate plan. However, do not make the mistake of thinking that an ethical will can replace the rest of your estate plan.
Contact an experienced estate planning attorney who can help guide you through this process.