Most of us pay careful attention to passing along our assets – our material goods. We worry about tax, asset management, and preservation of a lifetime’s earnings. We pay precious little time to something that is arguably more important – passing along our values.
Ethical Wills have long been used for just this purpose. The concept has been around for centuries. The concept is firmly imbedded in the Old Testament.
The goal is to pass along the wisdom and maturity of your lifetime. The goal is to pass along the values that you have developed over the decades. While this is primarily achieved by the life you lead and the nature of your relationships, a written legacy can be even more enduring.
What might an Ethical Will address?
It might identify the more formative experiences of your lifetime or the critical lessons that you learned. It might identify the issues or causes that are most important to you – and why. For some, biblical or other such references are appropriate. For others, it may be poetry or chosen words of a favored philosopher.
An Ethical Will is very personal. In addition to global or enduring truths, it might address the very nature of your relationship with your loved ones.
You must prepare your revocable living trust, your Durable Power of Attorney, and your Advance Health Care Directive. You must also think about passing along your values in a meaningful, written way. An Ethical Will – and the thoughtful process of developing the will – is perhaps the best planning tool that you can use.