Many children (and adults for that matter) regularly ask “why?” to understand events in their lives. The answer usually is not tangible. An ethical will attempts to transfer an intangible legacy to your heirs—the why of the inheritance.
By Stephen K Lehnardt
What is an ethical will? The concept has been around for centuries—the earliest example dating around 1050—but only recently have ethical wills been included more frequently as part of modern estate planning.
Regarding tangible assets, your will provides the legally-binding “how” when it comes to your probate-oriented estate plan. How do you want your assets to be administered after death? How distributed? How protected?
On the other hand, your ethical will as providing a non-binding expression of “why” and the matters of the heart behind your estate. Why are you distributing your assets as you are? What private feelings and ideals would you wish for your heirs to remember? How would you link your heirs to their family and cultural history.
WealthManagement.com took up the topic of ethical wills in a recent article titled “The Rep’s Guide to Ethical Wills.”
When planning for your estate, there are two important aspects to consider and balance: law and intention. Every decision and action you take with your estate (assets) requires legal compliance. Consequently, your plans must appease the law and the court system. On the other hand, your intent behind every decision intimately and ultimately affects your loved ones who may not understand your decisions.
The dilemma is that legal language does not express emotive intentions well. 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 may help satisfy your and your heirs need to belong, be known and remembered in such a way that makes a lasting difference in the lives of future generations after you are gone.
For more information in Liberty, MO and the Kansas City Area about ethical wills, effective estate planning, and to access free information and tools to organize your estate, visit our estate planning website.
Reference: WealthManagement.com (February 25, 2014) “The Rep’s Guide to Ethical Wills”