Everyone is familiar with the standard will, which is the most basic vehicle of transfer used in estate planning. In addition to this document there is another type of will that is now being widely recommended called the the living will. This legal instrument is used to express your wishes with regard to medical preferences should a time come when you can’t make decisions in real time due to incapacitation. A living will is usually going to address the issue of life support and to what extent you would approve of the use of artificial means to keep you alive when there was no hope of recovery.
In addition to these vehicles there is another type of will that serves a very different purpose called the ethical will. When you are planning your estate and taking stock of your assets you may start to consider the sum total of your legacy. Many people would say that the most important things that they were able to bring away from their time on earth cannot be handed down in a material fashion.
It can be a good idea to meditate on the purpose of your life, your moral and spiritual underpinning, and the lessons you have learned throughout your life before you actually plan your estate and decide how to distribute your assets. Writing down an ethical will can be an act of self introspection that is cleansing and cathartic to you as the writer. Taking stock of your ethical foundation before you make these decisions can be a very useful exercise.
In addition to the value that it has for the author, an ethical will is a powerful gift to your heirs. It can help to provide them with moral and spiritual guidance at a time when they may be receiving a life changing sum of money. The holistic value of this sage counsel emanating from the source of the newly found wealth cannot be overstated.
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