An ethical will is an attempt to transfer an intangible legacy.
What is an ethical will? Think of your will as providing the legally-binding “how” when it comes to your estate plan. How do you want your assets to be distributed? On the other hand, think of your ethical will as providing the non-binding “why” when it comes to the matters of the heart behind your estate. Why are you distributing your assets as you are?
WealthManagement.com took up the topic of ethical wills in a recent article titled “The Rep’s Guide to Ethical Wills.”
You might say that there are two important aspects when it comes to planning for your estate. On the one hand, every decision is a legal decision. Consequently, you have to appease the law and the court system. On the other hand, every decision intimately and ultimately effects your loved ones who just need to understand your decisions.
The dilemma is that legal language is not too great at expressing an emotive concept, 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 can appease the emotional curiosity in the same way that the will sticks around to speak to your legal needs after you are gone.
Reference: WealthManagement.com (February 25, 2014) “The Rep’s Guide to Ethical Wills”