“The wealthy make a difference in many ways,” the U.S. Trust “Insights on Wealth and Worth 2016” survey revealed, including:

  • Donating to not-for-profit organizations
  • Volunteering time, skills, and service
  • Serving on boards
  • Considering societal and environmental impact when investing

According to U.S. Trust, the wealthy use “impact investing” because they consider their investment decisions a way to express their personal values.
“A growing body of research indicates that social screened portfolios can do every bit as well as non-screened investments,” asserts Kathy Kristof, writing in the July issue of Financial Planning magazine. (What, exactly, constitutes socially conscious investments – which might exclude alcohol, tobacco or defense stocks, or which might emphasize sustainable foods and environmentally-friendly products – might be in the eye of the beholder.) A 2015 study by Morgan Stanley, Kristof relates, found that mutual funds that screened for sustainability issues had equal or higher returns than those that didn’t, and – those funds achieved their results with less volatility.

At Geyer & Associates, we’ve found, investors who have firm opinions about which policies and practices have a positive or negative effect on society and who have worked on building investments that align with their personal values, have a strong interest in passing those values along to the next generation.

We agree with what Richard B. Schneider, writing in HG.org Legal Resources, has to say: “Not only can you leave a legacy of your actions, since those certainly speak louder than words, but you can incorporate those values into your estate plan itself.”

One way to pass along values is through what is called an ethical will. The purpose of an ethical will isn’t to serve as a legal document, but “to bequeath the intangibles – lessons learned by the grantor over a lifetime, personal history, and wishes for the family’s future.”

– by  Corinna A Smith of Rebecca W. Geyer  & Associates