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New Jersey estate planning can include life lessons, stories

When people plan an estate, they often think in terms of money and valuables that can be passed down to their heirs and future generations. However, there may be more value and meaning to an inheritance when life lessons and stories are also passed down. In New Jersey and elsewhere, individuals are becoming more concerned with leaving behind a legacy in addition to their assets. Professionals who assist with estate planning are also recognizing the importance of having older adults pass on life stories to their loved ones.

Consultants who help families with this task favor two approaches. The first involves assisting older adults with sharing their histories. The second approach includes teaching the younger generations methods that encourage older family members to share their thoughts and advice.

Several tools are now available that guide people through the process of putting together oral and written life histories that can be passed down through the generations. These resources help build a comprehensive story that details a loved one's cherished memories, core values and life lessons. Ethical wills are another option that allows older adults to leave behind a record of their beliefs and principles.

Older adults who spent their lives caring for their families may now be investigating ways to leave behind a lasting legacy for their loved ones. New Jersey residents interested in drafting an ethical will or recording their life stories may seek the guidance of an experienced professional who can explain all their estate planning options. Ensuring that family members are cared for financially is important, but that does not have to be all there is. Leaving behind a life history can help care for them emotionally, too.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "How to Pass Along Values and Life Lessons to Heirs," Robert Powell, Dec. 7, 2012

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