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Passing on the Values Behind Your Success: Ethical Wills

The Menashe Morley Group

Passing on the Values Behind Your Success: Ethical Wills

By Amanda N. Ross, Director, Personal Retirement Strategy and Solutions at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

The dynamics of wealth planning and decision-making for parents may seem a bit complicated and challenging. Once you start thinking about your legacy and how you envision it taking shape, you may find yourself asking a number of financial questions, such as: How much money am I going to leave my children? Do I include extended family? Who will steer the family business?

There is another crucial aspect of legacy that’s often overlooked: the values behind your success. Seventy-four percent of parents say values and life lessons are most important to pass on to the next generation.[1]

Sharing the values that shaped your success with your family ensures they appreciate your hard work and understand how much it means to you, and have an impact on future generations. Consider implementing an ethical will to complement estate planning.

An ethical will is a document, usually one or two pages, mentioning the values that shape your success. It is usually an end-of-life summary that is used in conjunction with documents that determine how your assets will be distributed. Some families write them together during family gatherings, gathering different insights and learning lessons from each other.

An ethical will may mention your vision and wishes for your family and generations to come, encouraging them to make a difference, and to value your legacy.  Some ethical wills offer rich insights and are highly descriptive, mentioning major life events and how they came about in shaping personal goals, beliefs and values.

Ethical wills don’t have a legal standing, but they do help pass on important life lessons, providing your family with a clear sense of your personal values. It also helps avoid any discussions or misunderstandings regarding money matters, considering it complements estate planning and can also be used to improve communication among family members; helping explain why your plan was set up a certain way.


For more information, contact The Menashe Morley Group in the Rancho Santa Fe office at 858-381-8113.


The Menashe Morley Group
The Menashe Morley Group

The Menashe Morley Group, serving the community for over 30 years: David Menashe is a Senior Vice President and Wealth Management Advisor, and Bruce Morley is a First Vice President and Wealth Management Advisor and John Naviaux is a Financial Advisor for Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated. Investment products are not FIDC insured, are not bank guaranteed, and may lose value.


© 2014 Bank of America Corporation. All rights reserved.


[1] Americans’ Perspectives on New Retirement Realities and the Longevity Bonus – a Merrill Lynch retirement study conducted in partnership with Age Wave

Photo by Andy Templeton


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