Having an ethical will allows you to pass on more than assets.
Death can come as a surprise.
A global pandemic has underscored this reality.
Even when people are fortunate enough to have loved ones at their bedsides when they pass away, much is still left unsaid.
According to a recent The Wall Street Journal article titled “The Importance of Writing an Ethical Will—for You and to Those You Love,” an ethical will can prevent this regret.
Although an ethical will does not carry any “legal” authority within the probate courts, it is powerful in other ways.
What is an ethical will?
An ethical will is a document used to convey your faith, basic values, family history, and lasting legacy to others.
Often these are addressed to children, grandchildren, or other family members and friends.
Ethical wills may also have a larger audience.
Some individuals choose to share messages with beyond their close family members and friends to their churches, civic groups, or other communities important to them.
This letter can bond multiple generations and is a sweet gift to those you love.
Writing an ethical will provides an opportunity to preserve your history and the history of your ancestors.
Ethical wills have a rich history.
In fact, Shalom Aleichem wrote one of the most famous ethical wills.
It was published in 1916 in The New York Times after his death.
In this letter, he recommended family and friends gather on the anniversary of his death and read aloud a joyous story he wrote.
Can you write an ethical will if you are not a skilled communicator?
Consider these questions as you begin your work.
Who is the recipient of the letter?
What events have shaped your life?
Who has influenced you personally?
What are your most treasured family stories and history?
What are your values and your faith?
Answering these questions will provide a nice start to your ethical will.
As you work on your ethical will, do not forget to create a traditional estate plan as well.
These work together to set up your loved ones for a more secure and meaningful life.
Reference: The Wall Street Journal (Nov. 17, 2020) “The Importance of Writing an Ethical Will—for You and to Those You Love”