The Human Component of Estate Planning: Leaving Your Legacy

Current estate planning clients are looking to leave more than money and property to the next generation. As Businessweek reports, people are now attempting to leave their personal legacies through devices such as ethical wills, life histories, and video recordings. Through these devices, people are adding a human component to traditional estate planning.

According to certified financial planner Neal Van Zutphen, “There’s an element regarding money, but it is really more about affirming your life as a legacy.” Because of the various ways to create a personal legacy component of a will, these can be done as a small do-it-yourself project, or a more intensive, expert-guided concept. Perhaps the most frequently used form is the ethical will, which is a simple letter to one’s family. Van Zutphen provides all of his clients with workbooks to assist them in preparing ethical wills.

Retired psychiatrist Paul Wilson undertook a more involved project when he decided to write a 60-page memoir for his children and grandchildren. Wilson plans to self-publish the memoir, which will contain photographs and newspaper articles. Wilson explained, “It’s therapeutic in that I come out of this learning more about myself – my present and my past … but the reward is more the experience of allowing myself to wander back to those times, and describe them in words as precise and concise as I can.”

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