Tuesday, August 13, 2019
A memorable founding father of this country had such a thorough last will that it still stands as good advice for clients today. George Washington laid out a clear vision for his legacy in his last will and testament of 1799, financing the establishment of a home for orphans and what is now Washington and Lee University, forgiving debts, and providing for his wife and others close to him.
Washington's will was specific and well-thought out, and he admitted that it took many of his leisure hours to get it just the way he wanted it. His last intentions were quite similar to those of many during the modern American era: family, friends, and philanthropy. The document was quite personal, and was unambiguous due to Washington's effort in proper communication, clarity, and customization, three guidelines that still important today for estate planning.
Communicate your wishes not only to your estate planning attorney or advisor, but also to your spouse and children. Let them know what your expect of your legacy as well as furthering the family legacy. Making your last intentions as clear as possible is also important, as there may be certain nuances to your wishes. A personal statement of intent is not necessary nor binding, but it may be added to an estate plan for clarity, especially if the distribution of certain assets are not equal. A particular level of customization can be useful for any estate plan, and can make it uniquely yours. It is important to work with an adviser who appreciates the intricacies of your financial picture, as well as the subtleties of your vision and values.
See Chris Creed, Smart Tips for Estate Planning: Write Your Will Like George Washington Did, Kiplinger, August 9, 2019.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.