Gerald D. and his wife, Patty, want to provide resources to their children and grandchildren through a trust, but avoid the negative effects that research shows can occur from doing so.

According to John Warnick, long-time estate planning lawyer, now practicing in Colorado, a Purposeful Trust with a Purposeful Legacy is a non-binding legal document which integrates, in a meaningful way, the trust creator’s voice, vision, values and/or life wisdom. Warnick advises that a lawyer skilled in drafting these documents is needed to create such a trust.

Along with the boilerplate that is essential to a valid trust, the Purposeful Trust will be drafted in the first person and include the following:

Text boxes that include the italicized quotes from the creator that reveal his or her vision, values and wisdom; Text, including a glossary that defines terms, roles and concepts, prepared in plain English, even in explaining tax planning; Clauses that express the creator’s vision for how the trust is to benefit the family, friends, and/or charities and community; A trust name chosen by the creator (rather than the attorney), which connects the beneficiaries and the trustee to the purpose and meaning of the creator and reflects his or her deepest purposes, hopes and dreams; Clauses rich in guidance for the trustee and guidelights for the beneficiaries. Guidelights can be communicated by sharing lessons of life experiences that echo virtues for upon which the creator has relied for a meaningful life;  Gifts of tangible personal property should include a recitation of the circumstances of   acquisition, what the item meant to the owner, and why this item was given to this particular loved one. These revelations can make the item priceless in the beneficiary’s eyes; and  Expressions of love for, belief in the goodness and potential of the beneficiary, along with reflections of how the creator dreams the gifts of cash will be a positive and sustaining influence on the life. These expressions make it possible for gratitude and appreciation to generate and flourish in the beneficiaries, thus undercutting the potential for attitudes of entitlement and narcissism.  

Sandra W. Reed is an attorney with Katten & Benson, an Elder Law firm in Fort Worth. She lives in beautiful Somervell County, near Chalk Mountain.