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Does Your Estate Plan Share Your Values with Heirs?

Financially responsible and caring individuals typically put a lot of importance into planning the transfer of their assets to family and charity. But have you put together a plan to transfer your legacy of values, life lessons along with words of encouragement on the responsible management of the inheritance with your heirs? Without an appreciation of the work and wisdom that went into building the wealth they receive, your heirs may have a harder time retaining that inheritance.

A solution we recommend to our clients is to either share your story in either a family meeting or in an ethical will. What is an ethical will? Unlike a will or trust or a living will, an ethical will is designed to give heirs and future generations a glimpse into the values, principles, life lessons, and beliefs that inspired and motivated the giver. It is a heartfelt expression of what truly matters most in your life. Clients who have specific requirements about the conditions under which their assets are to be distributed need to put their instructions in a will or trust.

Ethical wills can be informal letters to lengthy autobiographical narratives. While most ethical wills take the form of a written document, other clients choose to produce printed books, bound albums, audio messages, or even videotape. You can choose to share these documents when you are alive or after death.

An ethical will is not legally binding or enforceable document, but it can give your heirs a greater appreciation of your work and values that went into building their inheritance. For thoughtful, loving parents an ethical will is a worthy consideration. If you want help, we can help. Contact us for a sample letter and checklist of items to consider.