When the time comes to face mortality, many Americans begin to worry about the legacy they might leave behind for their survivors. Wills, trusts and living wills are irreplaceable tools that provide detailed information about important medical decisions as well as distribution of property, but many find these documents fall short when it comes to conveying advice, counseling or a deeper message.
Also known as an ethical will, a letter of instruction is one such way to ensure a hard-won legacy lasts for generations. For example, one aging man with concerns that one of his sons might squander his inheritance decided to create a letter of instruction in order to share the values and principles he had practiced to build his wealth. He also used this opportunity to convey to his sons that he believed in their ability use their inheritance prudently.
As the man feared, one of his two sons used the money to invest in risky real estate deals which fell through when the housing market fell into trouble. The good news is that the other son took his father’s last message to heart and made wise investments with his share of the inheritance.
While a letter of instruction or an ethical will is neither legally binding nor enforceable, it does give those facing death an opportunity to provide heirs with an earnest expression about what’s important in life. Combined with legal documents like a testamentary trust, a living will or a last will and testament, an ethical will offers a way to transfer both tangible assets and intangible legacies from one generation to the next.
In a world that places such a strong emphasis on material acquisitions, this kind of after-death message might have the power to influence survivors in a positive way like never before. Best of all, a letter of instruction is suitable for people of all wealth levels. With the help of a caring attorney, Florida residents can create this kind of legacy trust and give something special to those they leave behind.
Source: Wealth Management, “The Rep’s Guide to Ethical Wills” John Kador, Feb. 25, 2014