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Pass on More Than Assets Through Ethical Wills

There are many different types of wills. Most pertain to monetary value, such as a last will and testament. However, more people are discovering that an ethical will (also known as legacy letters) is beneficial to pass ethical values from one generation to the next.

         Two of the more common wills are a last will and testament, which designates a person to manage and distribute the estate in accordance with the testator’s wishes. A will also nominates guardians over the person and estate of minor children. This is sometimes confused with a living will, which states the principal’s end of life decisions. This is something that should not be overlooked, as it can be helpful and alleviate the heavy burden on family members when tasked with making difficult health care decisions.

         An ethical will gives the author a place to pass on his or her legacy and include private expressions of love. The author can look at life from a bird’s eye view and abstract the important deeper meanings and wisdom to share. It’s a place to pass on the family history, tell personal stories, lessons, experiences and even share cherished recipes with loved ones. It can be both a cathartic process for the author and priceless to the beneficiaries.

         While an ethical will is not in lieu of a last will and testament, it can be a nice supplement and a way to pass on more than just money.

Source: Cindy Campbell, family attorney in Naperville and Chicago, who focuses on estate planning, guardianships and collaborative family law and mediation. For more information, visit


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