Greetings! Welcome to my website, which is devoted to sharing information and resources about the benefits of purposeful estate planning. My passion is helping people determine the best estate plan that suits their needs and building that plan with a solid legal...

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My Ethical Will Story

What follows are the first two paragraphs of my ethical will:

I begin this document, which is my Ethical Will, with a sentence-In the Name of God, Amen-that was customarily used to begin all last wills and testaments before the practice ended a little more than a century ago. As an aside, at one time there was a legal difference between a will, which covered lands, and a testament, which covered personal property, but this distinction, which required people to have to execute two separate documents to transmit their belongings at death, was eliminated a few centuries ago when the two separate documents were combined under the name last will and testament, so now you know. But I digress, which is going to happen several times during my Ethical Will as it’s just a part of my personality, so you just as soon be ready for diversions.

You may find it odd that a lawyer who was trained to write wills and trusts would use the opening line from a historical last will and testament in his Ethical Will, which doesn’t transmit any property at all. First of all, I want to make it clear that this Ethical Will is not to be construed in any way to distribute any property that I could leave by will or any other mode of transfer. Moreover, my Ethical Will should not be construed as interpreting, amending, modifying or terminating any testamentary arrangements that I’ve made elsewhere to transmit property. However, with the legal warranty out of the way, that still doesn’t explain the reason for my use of the opening phrase.

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The Good Estate Planning Result Under the Microscope

In my opinion, a good estate planning result where property is properly transmitted as desired, and family relations among the survivors are not harmed during the estate planning and administration process. Notice that conspicuously absent from this definition is any mention of taxes.  I humbly submit that taxes have always been the easiest piece of the estate planning puzzle to solve, yet the overwhelming majority of estate planners still focus their attention almost solely on the tax piece, probably because it is easiest to solve and also the easiest to demonstrate quantifiable, tangible results. This is not easy to do.  Why is this so difficult to achieve?

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