ElderLaw News

ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

Legacy Letters and Ethical Wills

A recent Investment News article by Kathleen M. Rehl discussed the value of parents leaving “legacy letters" for their children and grandchildren to share after the parents are gone.

Traditional estate planning is important for everyone, but many people want to focus on more than just property or financial assets. A legacy letter or ethical will is a good addition to an estate plan.

The author described the letter her mother had written shortly before her death. “Please know how important you are to me and how much I love you. Life has been such a fascinating and interesting adventure with you, my family, being a big part of this journey.” She wrote about her values, lessons life taught her, and her love for each member of the family. Ms. Rehl says that “[w]hat she experienced during her 84 years of life was much more valuable than the material stuff she left behind.”

Barry K Baines is the author of “Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values On Paper,” and his website is www.ethicalwill.com. The website includes samples of ethical wills, written by people at various stages of their lives. Theses transition times may include marriage, the birth of a child or grandchild, change of career, retirement, death of a spouse, health challenges or the end of life. People may find that writing these legacy letters can help manage these transition stages better.

Ms. Rehl says that writing a legacy letter not only helps loved ones by communicating the meaning of the author’s life, but is a gift for the writer. “In reflecting upon the past and recording thoughts on paper, writers learn about themselves, ponder what they stand for and have the opportunity to articulate that which is closest to their hearts.” People can write their initial letter and keep it updated each year.

Attorneys who may want to add legacy letters or ethical wills to their estate planning practice may want to write his or her own letter first. This can help them understand the process and provide some guidance to the clients.


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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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