Everyone has heard of the last will, which is the most common vehicle of asset transfer used in the field of estate planning. It is interesting to note that in the past this document was comprised of two different components and generally termed the “last will and testament.” When it was broken down in this manner, the will was used to transfer real property and the testament was the portion of the document that was devoted to the transfer of personal property. During current times the distinction between the two is rarely used and the document is simply known as a last will.
There’s another type of will that is widely recommended in estate planning circles these days called a living will. The living will is used to state your preferences regarding medical procedures should you become unable to answer questions in real time due to incapacitation. The issue that is central to these documents is usually going to be whether or not you would want to be kept alive through the use of artificial life support systems if you were in a terminal condition.
There is a third type of will that is not as well known as the first two called the ethical will that you may want to consider including in your estate plan. The ethical will dates back to biblical times and has been a part of the Jewish tradition for centuries, used to pass along the moral and spiritual insights of the author to future generations. These days it is used by people of all faiths and by some people who are not particularly religious at all.
With the ethical will there are no hard and fast rules about what can and cannot be included. It is simply a final letter of sorts presented to your loved ones intended to pass along information that you want them to know. Composing an ethical will can be personally cathartic to the author as well as extremely instructive to the readers. An ethical will can provide your family members with wisdom that money cannot buy, and this shared experience and insight may be the greatest gift that you can give them.
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