Estate and Legacy planning documents are often seen as difficult, and boring pieces of paper—which in some ways is exactly what they have to be in order to someday withstand tough legal scrutiny; but unless you’re an attorney who is practiced at reading the sentiment between the lines of dry legal jargon, these documents don’t make for sentimental family heirlooms. This is why some families and individuals are choosing to make (in addition to their legally binding estate planning documents) personal ethical wills to leave to their loved ones.
An ethical will can be anything from a letter to your children expressing your love and hope that they carry on your values, to a novella length memoir detailing your life experiences. But what about those people who don’t have the ability or inclination to articulate their thoughts in pen and ink? Well, more and more these people are turning to the camera and making their ethical wills on video.
A video will, as suggested by this article in the Wall Street Journal, is an unparalleled way to let the younger generation know about your feelings and values. “No matter how clear your memories of someone may be, if you have them on the screen in front of you, talking to you, there’s a qualitative difference.” And a video will, if made correctly in the presence of your estate planning attorney, might even have the added benefit of preventing disputes and bickering between your heirs later on.
What we like best about the idea of ethical or video wills is the personal touch. Although we work every day with the “dry and boring legal jargon”, we know that underneath all that an estate plan is about love and values—it’s about family. And an ethical or video will is a way to add a personal touch to the formal written Will or Trust, which is still necessary to meet legal requirements. So, consider doing both together to pass on, not only your assets, but also your values and hopes.