What Would Aristotle Do?

See what Aristotle and today's blended families share in common. We highlight the unique challenges and surprising ripple effects of important estate planning decisions.

10.01.2016 - Fiduciary Trust Canada

What Would Aristotle Do?

Planning a future for a household that differs from the nuclear family model may feel like a 21st century dilemma. It is not. In fact, even Aristotle faced this very situation. In his will, the great philosopher made it clear his executors were to treat not only his legitimate daughter Pythias, but also his illegitimate son, Nichomachus,“with kindness and generosity” (of course as defined by the laws of that time). He likewise ensured his students were cared for, his adult slaves were freed with generous settlements, while younger ones were nurtured until such time that freedom was suitable.

The use of documents and agreements to manage through various stages of personal relationships within nontraditional family units has therefore had a long history. Although similar estate planning decisions apply to all family structures, blended families face unique dynamics. How you make the connections with and among your children—biological, adopted, and/or stepchildren—while balancing your wishes and the needs of all concerned, is the challenge.



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