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What is an ethical will?

Kent residents have heard of wills as part of a basic estate plan. These documents give direction as to what should be done with a person's assets the time of the person's death. Although these assets are important parts of a family's legacy for many people there is more to a legacy than money. Estate planning is important for all families to direct asset distribution and to ensure that their values and beliefs are passed to their heirs.

In recent years, ethical wills have increased in popularity. Although these are not legal documents they are wonderful resources to leave to heirs regarding what was important to people and what they want their heirs to remember. They are cherished documents for generations.

An ethical will can include a lot of information about a family's beliefs and values. People can write about their life's experiences and what they want their family to learn from them. They can pass along what important things they learned and what they have accomplished in their lifetime. Values are an important lesson that many want their relatives to continue when they're gone.

Values can include the importance of charity work, religion, physical activity, love of golf and sailing or anything that a person believes is important in life. An estate plan almost always includes financial resources that are being passed on. An ethical will can direct heirs to what they would like their inheritance to be used for. And, of course an ethical will can include what people want to be remembered for.

Estate planning is a very important part of a person's family plan. An estate plan can offer families peace of mind for when they pass away. Although a person's assets are the primary reason for an estate plan leaving a legacy of values and personal beliefs are also important. Fortunately an ethical will is one way for people to ensure their experiences and beliefs will offer guidance for future generations.

Source: Napa Valley Register, "An ethical will," Tom and John Mills, May 24, 2015

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