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The best plans consider what you want to do while you’re still here, and the legacy you want to leave behind

A good estate plan, as you approach retirement, goes beyond deciding who gets what and how much after you die. It also should address your aspirations before you die—the things you hope to achieve in later life—and what legacy you want to leave behind besides your assets.

A simple, if sobering, way to look at this is for spouses to start by asking each other: “What is the most significant thing I would like to accomplish before I die?” Then think about how your estate could continue to make a difference after you’re gone.

Some possible questions to ask yourselves are: “What do we want to contribute for our grandchildren’s education?” Or, “Do we want to leave money for scholarships at our alma mater?” Or, “Do we have sufficient funds to set up a family foundation, and if so, what should be its focus?” At the very least, you might consider including an “ethical will” among your estate-planning documents—something that transmits your core beliefs and principles to your survivors and heirs.

As someone once said: “I think it is critical that people pass along their values before they pass along their valuables.”


Excerpts taken from an article written by Glenn Ruffenach and published in the October 22, 2018 edition of The Wall Street Journal.