You May Want An Ethical Will

Ethical WillsIn recent years, estate planning professionals have become increasingly aware that it is not enough to provide for transmission of the tangible estate. Each person also has an "intangible estate," amassed from the experience of a lifetime, which can be of great value to his or her future heirs. Call King Law Offices, LLC, in Madison at 608-620-7285 to arrange a consultation.

What Is An Ethical Will?

An ethical will is a statement of the values, beliefs, thoughts, lessons, dreams and/or memories that you would like to leave to those you love and to future generations.

An ethical will is a complement to the legal will by which you hand on your material possessions. It is not a legal document (and should be carefully checked to be sure it does not contradict your legal will).

The tradition of the ethical will is an ancient one (think of Jacob blessing his sons at the end of Genesis). The custom of writing ethical wills became established in medieval times, only to fall into disuse for several centuries.

What An Ethical Will Can Do

  • An ethical will is an opportunity to state your values and beliefs about the things that have been important in your life such as religion or spirituality, family, money, work, and environment.
  • An ethical will can help to explain the provisions of your legal will (charitable bequests, disposition of assets, distribution of heirlooms).
  • The process of writing an ethical will can help you to think about what is meaningful to you and how you would like to be remembered.
  • An ethical will can help your family members to understand your wishes and to feel your continuing presence in their lives. It can strengthen the continuity between generations.
  • Your ethical will can be not only an estate planning document but a life planning document, a tool for taking stock and moving on. Like your legal will, your ethical will can be updated.

Making An Ethical Will

Our firm's estate planning team will be happy to work with you to help formulate your ethical will, drawing on the traditional ethical will literature and the experience and teaching of modern practitioners.

  • We will discuss with you the desired format and the areas you would like your ethical will to cover.
  • In a recorded interview, we will ask you questions that will help you to think aloud about the topics you have chosen.
  • Our ethical will attorney will provide you with a record of the interview, which may be a CD or DVD, a transcript, an ethical will document based on the interview, or all three.
  • If a transcript or document, you will have a chance to review a draft and tell us what you would like changed. We will then revise the document according to your directions and draw up a final version in an attractive format.

Document, Video Or Audio?

Our ancestors had only one way of recording their ethical wills — the written document. Today, you also have the option of a video or audio recording.

A written document still has important advantages. It does not require equipment to play it on. It does not depend on rapidly changing technology. Putting your thoughts in written form ensures that they will remain readily accessible and available. While an interview transcript preserves your exact words, an edited and organized ethical will offers the maximum in readability for future generations.

An audio or video recording can complement your written ethical will by preserving your unique presence.


The cost of your ethical will depends on the option chosen and the time required for interviewing and editing. We are currently offering our basic package (audio recording, transcript and edited document) at the introductory rate of $450. Written document only, starting at $100.

Call us at 608-620-7285 for a free initial consultation and a personalized quote. Or, if you prefer, complete our online form.

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King Law Offices, LLC
1667 Capital Avenue, Suite A
Madison, WI 53705

Phone: 608-620-7285
Fax: 608-233-9422
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