Estate Planning Tips from George Washington’s Will

Most famous figures will find themselves under the public’s microscope from fame until death. With information so easily accessible today, the details of many high-profile individual’s estate plans have come to light from Aretha Franklin to Robin Williams. Looking back a bit further in history to 1799, one of the United States first celebrities, George Washington, left a will commended by many experts. Clear and concise, the founding father’s estate plan teaches many valuable lessons on the correct way to execute your estate planning.

Take your time. Washington’s will contains over 5,500 words or about nine pages of text, which he spent countless hours toiling over. Taking the proper time and steps to draft your estate planning documents is a crucial consideration. Although nine pages may seem excessive for most, Washington’s words left less room for interpretation, and he was able to personalize the outcome of his belongings. Taking the time to consult an estate planning expert’s opinion is also a great way to ensure everything goes according to plan.

Communicate with your heirs. Washington left his estate solely to benefit his wife Martha along with helping friends, family, and the community. When formulating his will, he no doubt consulted his beloved wife on what he wanted to do with his assets. Keeping an open line of communication with your potential beneficiaries can make things more transparent and help avoid surprises. This step is particularly important in families that may have unique situations as well. The subject may be challenging to talk about, but it is better to be prepared than caught off guard. 

Think Big. Washington not only protected his wife and family but was able to fulfill other dreams. He established a school for orphans to help the community and endowed a struggling college with stock. The college eventually became Washington and Lee University, which still stands to this day. When you think about your long-term goals, you can both provide for your immediate loved ones and have the capability to do much more. Doing so can leave a legacy much like the one that lived on after this iconic president’s passing.

Though your options are virtually limitless, proper estate planning -deciding on the “who, what, when, and how” and executing this with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees and court costs possible can be a challenging and emotional affair to wrestle with alone. For more information, contact Talley LLP today.