Ethical Wills – Transforming an Inheritance

April Hill is an attorney, veteran, athlete, mother of three, engaged in a variety of community services, and cherishes her dog Mitzi.  Professionally she is a powerful advocate for Elder Law and Estate Planning (based in St. Petersburg Florida).

In a recent article (at this LINKshe describes helping people with their "final wishes" almost every day.  She develops their Wills and Trusts to clearly express legal and financial wishes, but she's been keenly aware of an acute gap as such documents fail to convey the deeper legacies of "values, beliefs and traditions" that are more precious than gold or other personal and family assets.

Pic _ Ethical Will _ Stories


April therefore describes an Ethical Will as "the sharing of values, wishes, beliefs and more, in a written form."  Be sure to visit her site and feel the impact this can make for families.  Perhaps someone didn't understand the value of an ethical will.  So she may ask such a person, “Would you have wanted one from your mother, father, spouse or loved one?”  And she adds, "They quickly begin to see how precious an ethical will can be."

Such an ethical will can be long or short, perhaps just expressing the desire for peaceful and happy relations among family members.  Or a longer version could speak of family experiences and the values, morals, and faith of those who are contemplating their bequests.

My 2013 book, "A Lifetime Of Wealth - And How Not To Lose It" briefly addresses some of this in chapter 3, "Inheriting Wealth."  There I share, "Whether it's $50,000 or $5Million being received, I want to advocate for a sense of the 'values' that may come with this money."   Personal values and wishes are a vital piece of a healthy family legacy, helping preserve lasting value for future generations.

Family stories of parents, grandparents, can deeply shape the experience of giving or receiving an inheritance.   Lifting these into your conversations while living will ease various forms of guilt, sadness, and insecurity and enable the next generation to have a positive experience with the combined inheritance of wealth and family "values".

Another helpful voice on this subject is Thomas W. Deans in his book, Willing Wisdom.  I've shared this with each of my four children, and we will continue to revisit such "7 Questions Successful Families Ask".  Memories of earlier years, financial challenges, and the backbone to face life together successfully build a character in our estate planning far beyond documenting dollars and other benevolences.

Freely add your own comments at April's site, and also here (below).  Will you please share these ideas with your loved ones and friends?   Dear ones will be most grateful if you do!

Brian Weatherdon, MA CFP CLU CPCA CRC, MDRT.  905-637-3500 x 223
627 Guelph Line, Burlington, Ontario. L7R 3M7.   1-877-937-3500 FREE x 223
Ret.Coach SEALCertified Financial Planner.  Certified Retirement Coach.


1 comment

  1. Thank you Brian and April – it’s so very important to have a Will done, yes, but especially important to find the right person to help you prepare it! It’s not just about “your stuff” and “who gets it”, but about your feelings, your life through your items, your money/savings and who will cherish it… As with everything in life, tread carefully and make wise connections with those who respect you now, and will in the future even after you’ve become dust and your “stuff” is handed over to others.

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