Q: How is my ethical will different from a standard will?
A: When we speak of a will, we are usually referring to a legal document – preferably drafted by an estate planning attorney – that mandates how the assets in your estate are to be conveyed upon your death. By contrast, your ethical will is a personal testament written by you. It conveys a spiritual, rather than a material, bequest. It enriches not bank accounts but hearts. I can’t imagine how much I would treasure holding in my hands a document encapsulating the deepest thoughts and wisdom of one of my now-passed grandparents.
Q: What should I include in my ethical will?
A: An ethical will can be as brief or as broad as you want it to be. It can simply provide the reasoning behind your formal estate plan or it can become a major project that expands into your memoirs. In an ethical will, you can share values and lessons learned from your most significant experiences. It may include a summary of what is most important to you, your hopes and dreams for your family, traditions you would like to pass on, and how you would like to be remembered.
Q: Why should I consider writing an ethical will?
A: An ethical will is an invaluable gift both to your loved ones and to yourself. Writing your ethical will is a rare opportunity to explore and express your life’s meaning. And your heirs will cherish forever what has been described as “a window into your soul.” I95
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