Unlike a Will or Trust (or a Living Will, which concerns end of life medical issues), 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.
Drafting a perfect legal document is not always the same as crafting the perfect estate plan. Sometimes it is worth the extra energy, time and effort to draft your true intentions in a more approachable form and even a different document. It is a concept new to many, but consider the use of an “Ethical Will.”
What is an Ethical Will? Think of your Will as providing the legally-binding “how” when it comes to your estate plan. How do you want your assets to be distributed? On the other hand, think of your Ethical Will as providing the non-binding “why” when it comes to the matters of the heart behind your estate. Why are you distributing your assets as you are?
WealthManagement.com took up the topic of Ethical Wills in a recent article titled “The Rep’s Guide to Ethical Wills.” You might say that there are two important aspects when it comes to planning for your estate. On the one hand, every decision is a legal decision. Consequently, you have to appease the law and the court system. On the other hand, every decision intimately and ultimately effects your loved ones who just need to understand your decisions.
The dilemma is that legal language is not too great at expressing an emotive concept, but you can always work outside the lines to ensure that your point gets made with an Ethical Will in which you write your reasons, emotions and hopes in an entirely non-legal way. The Ethical Will can appease the emotional curiosity in the same way that the Will sticks around to speak to your legal needs after you are gone.
You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.
Reference: WealthManagement.com (February 25, 2014) “The Rep’s Guide to Ethical Wills”