Estate planning involves the distribution of your assets to your loved ones after you pass away, and when you see the word “assets” in print you immediately think about things like real property, cash, stocks and bonds, and valuable personal possessions. People do indeed pass these things on to their loved ones after they die, but when you’re living through your twilight years and taking the time to evaluate your legacy you may have that inevitable moment of clarity when you realize that the things that you possess that are the most valuable cannot really be quantified in dollars and cents.
Anyone who has spent any length of time on a particular career path has had the experience of recognizing that it was impossible to explain how to do a particular task to a colleague because it required so much digression to prerequisite information. It takes experience to learn these things piece by piece, and there’s really no other way to effectively do it.
If you take the value of that experience to another level it is a good analogy for the way that you may feel when you are taking stock of your overall legacy. All that you have learned throughout perhaps eight decades or more of life is difficult to impart in some kind of comprehensive set of instructions, but you can leave behind some general guidance to light the way.
Going back to biblical times people have done this through the execution of an ethical will. With these documents you share personal insights including your ethical and spiritual perceptions in an effort to pass along some of the hard lessons that you learned to your loved ones. There are no hard and fast rules about exactly what must be included in an ethical will – it could be looked upon as a last letter to family members communicating some of the things that may have been left unsaid throughout your life.
Financial assets can go a long way toward making the lives of your family members simpler and more secure, but a bit of ethical guidance can sometimes turn out to be the greatest gift of all in the long run.
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