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OTHER ITA SITES:
A will is a legal document telling your heirs what they get. An ethical will isnít a legal document, but directs your heirs with stories to hopefully lead them to a better life. You can also include why you direct funds with stories in an ethical will so your family will be able to understand your decisions. Remember, you wonít be there to explain and you donít need a long explanation in a will. Thatís just for the movies.
Write short stories of your life that teach lessons or how and where you got your money. Donít have a list for them to read. If you have trouble writing, you can record your stories. This works well for children. Tell your kids the troubles you had so they can learn from them. It would also be helpful if you told them your medical information as they may inherit some of your medical issues.
My father recently passed away and he left me no money or anything, but I did get his stories. He was trying to finish them, but only did a page at a time as he remembered things. I have the stories and they are more valuable than anything. One of the neat stories he had was telling me where he was born and where all of the family was buried. Like great grandparents and such. Remember, writing stories or typing them doesnít have to start out: Ethical Will of John Williams 1. I was born. . . Just write stories as they come to you. Then you can compile them and they can even be printed on demand in a book fairly cheap. Pretty cool sounding? But thereís more to explain in your stories.
Also, explain in your ethical will why you gave your money so your heirs will understand where it went and why. Giving all your money and possessions to your kids may be their assumption, but you might want to consider these issues. First, make sure your heirs will have enough money to live on. If you then want to give to a charity, explain your wishes to your kids. Better still, get them involved in the charity so theyíll see why you are interested. If you donít, then youíll know you made the right decision.
You can have a Charitable Remainder Trust. This will pay you the interest, and say, after 20 years, the charity gets the rest. Or you can reverse it with a Charitable Lead Trust in which the charity gets the interest and after 20 years, the kids get the principal. I like this one the best.
I still believe in taking care of your family first, but if there is excess, take care of a charity you believe in. Explaining why in an ethical will along with other stories about your life will be a keepsake for generations.
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