I recently spoke with a client of mine, Norm P., about writing an ethical will. We talked about how his three kids had graduated from college without a sliver of debt, whereas he spent time in the Army and struggled financially as a young man. It was one of the first times anyone had asked him about the life events that had shaped his financial beliefs, and he was proud to share his story with me.
Our conversation inspired him to begin writing down his experiences, so that he could pass on the lessons he’d learned to his adult children and grandchildren.
What’s an Ethical Will? Why Should Clients Do One?
Dating back to early biblical times, ethical wills are intended to pass along family values from one generation to the next. They’re not legal documents; rather, they convey the stories and beliefs that have influenced clients’ financial lives, serving as family heirlooms and teaching tools long after the writer has passed away.
As a complement to your estate planning process, ethical wills can help you build trust with clients and forge relationships with the next generation. But they’re not for every client—or every advisor. If you’re thinking about introducing ethical wills to your clients, it’s important to understand what the process entails and whether it makes sense for your business.