The 3 Tools Essential to Every Relational Estate Plan

In our recently published book, Fearless: Facing the Future Confidently with Relational Estate Planning, (soon to be available on Amazon!) we explain what it means to have an estate planning philosophy that focuses on your loved ones’ well-being, rather than focusing solely on your assets. We call it Relational Estate Planning, and we’re seeing it make huge differences in our clients’ lives and families.

(Want to further understand Relational Estate Planning? Click here.)

To craft your estate plan is to create one last gift for the people you love most. So after explaining the profound impact you can have by preparing well for your death in section one, the second half of our book explains the eight legal tools you can use to give that gift.

3 Essential Tools

Because each person’s life situation is different, not everyone will use all eight tools we describe in the book; they are simply options for different ways to accomplish your goals.

Three of them, however, form the foundation of any relational estate plan, regardless of your situation.  If you hope to provide for your loved ones, you must utilize these three tools:

1. Last Will and Testament

Your Last Will and Testament is one of those things you can put off without any consequences – until the day someone desperately needs it, that is. When that day comes, your loved ones will either be thanking heaven you took the time to have it drafted, or they’ll be wishing with all their hearts you had.

A will is a legal document that states how you wish your assets to be distributed after your death, and names a Guardian for your minor children. At the time of your death, your will is filed with the local court and enforced through a system called probate.

Without a will, there is no direction for how to transfer your assets, meaning the state will take over. They’ll assign the care of your minor children and distribute your possessions as they see fit.

The only way to care for your loved ones is to make a plan ahead of time so that you, not the government, call the shots. We see your Last Will and Testament as the first step in creating a Relational Estate Plan.

(Related: 5 Ways to Protect Your Child with Estate Planning)

2. Ethical Will

An Ethical Will is a personal document or recording that communicates your legacy, beliefs, and values to others. It is arguably the most impactful and meaningful tool in any relational estate plan.

Creating an Ethical Will is essential if you want to pass on the most important parts of who you are to your loved ones, and it’s one last opportunity to offer love, advice, reconciliation, or encouragement to others.

It isn’t an official legal document, but we always encourage our clients to create an Ethical Will and store it with your other end-of-life information.

(Want to learn more about Ethical Wills? Click here.)

Estate Guide and Inventory

This last essential tool is simple to create and will do wonders in helping your loved ones in the days following your death.

An Estate Guide and Inventory is a document that lists the practical details of your estate, such as your different assets and their locations, insurance policies, bank account information, contact information for key professionals in your life, and more.

This makes the job of administrating your estate much easier for your Executor and close family members or friends. It’s a very practical gift you can give them which will ease the burdens that come along with having to step in and manage the details of someone else’s life.

The great thing about this document is that you can do it on your own, and it can be updated at any time as your life continues to change.

(Ready to create this important document? Download our Estate Guide and Inventory Template.)

If you hope to use your death to care for the people you love, these three tools are a must.


Ready to begin forming your relational estate plan? Request your free consultation today; we’d love to get to know you and see how we can help.


Posted on