Thursday, August 23, 2007

Your Ethical Will

When you first think about estate planning it is often only about dollars and cents. Who gets what, how to minimize taxes, how to avoid probate. We often forget that the people we love will be facing one of the most emotionally trying times of their life. Yes you need to take care of the financial aspects of your estate but you should also try to incorporate the emotional needs of your loved ones.

Something you should consider is writing an "ethical will". An ethical will is not a legal document, it is like a final chance to communicate with you loved ones. Ethical wills are a way of sharing some of the wisdom you have accumulated over your lifetime. It can be a short letter to your heirs or a long document that includes things like your family history, a statement of your beliefs, and stories about your life that shaped the way you lived. You can include things like where the money your leaving came from, what it meant to you, and how you would like to see it used. If your children or grandchildren are very young, writing an ethical will can provide a link that can reach through the years.

The hardest part is always where to begin. Some ideas that can get you going might be:
  • I am most grateful for..
  • The most important gift I ever received..
  • My parents taught me..
  • From my grandparents I learned..
  • What mattered the most in my life..
Look at an ethical will as an opportunity to connect your life with future generations, it can be a satisfying experience.

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