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The “ethical will”

I’ve touched on it before. I have no question I will be writing about it again. This, perhaps more than anything else, is what distinguishes legacy planning from estate planning: the content of what some call the “ethical will,” and others refer to as a person’s “testament” or “legacy letter” or what our second legacy planner called the “family wealth letter of intent.” It’s the device–or collection of devices: written, audio, video, or other–that conveys to members of future generations the special messages the estate plan donor wants them to know and remember, the stories of the people and events that shaped their lives, the special life lessons, the heart of the donor. Read the rest of this entry »

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Joe the Plumber, Max the Plumber . . . and a Legacy

Of course, we’re all familiar with “Joe the Plumber,” the icon of the McCain presidential campaign for the last few weeks. Dr. Stanley Fish, a professor of law at Florida International University, Miami, and dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, wrote a moving tribute to–or memoir, character sketch, brief biography of–his father that appeared on yesterday’s New York Times Opinion page. The article was called “Max the Plumber.”

When I got finished with it, I wondered: What’s the legacy I will leave to my children and grandchildren when it comes to the stories they know of me and the images that will stick in their minds? What will they say of me when I’m gone? . . . And can I do anything that might help improve their understanding of who I am and what I wanted to be all about? Read the rest of this entry »

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