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Tell Your Story with an Ethical Will

When most people think of creating an estate plan, they think of legal and financial documents that provide for the transfer of their material wealth – the contents of their bank accounts, their home, and personal property. But some of our greatest wealth is our wisdom, passion, and life experiences.

One way to transfer your story to the next generation is by creating an Ethical Will. An Ethical Will is your own creation that allows you to transfer your thoughts, and intentions with the ones you love. An Ethical Will is a non-legal, personal message written in your own words, which serves as a complement to your other estate planning documents. It is not a Last Will and Testament and should not be mistaken for a legal document.

Ethical Wills are usually documents written in the form of a letter from you to your loved ones that provide a record and source of information, and illumination about your life, reflections and feelings. Although a two-dimensional letter can never be a substitute for you, like a photograph, your Ethical Will captures a glimmer of your personality.

It is important to understand that what you write in your Ethical Will is a timeless commemoration of you, and therefore should not contain any language you do not want to last forever. Also, it is very important that your Ethical Will does not contradict or cloud any element of your estate plan.

Some people choose to share their thoughts and intentions behind their estate planning in their Ethical Wills. This may help clarify your estate plan and possibly reduce or eliminate any conflicts between loved ones after your death. You may share your Ethical Will with the ones you love while you are still alive, or leave a copy among your legal documents to be shared after your death.

There are many components of an estate plan and an Ethical Will is one component that you may find to be the most valuable.

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