An ethical will, also known as a legacy letter, is a way to share your values and wisdom with your family and friends. It’s not a legal document written by a lawyer. It’s a heartfelt document created by you to be shared after your death.
It can contain life lessons; family history, stories, and traditions; hopes for the future of your loved ones; expressions of love and forgiveness; apologies to those you might have hurt; and gratitude to those you want to thank. It can also explain your distribution of assets if you feel there’s something that needs to be clarified to avoid any family arguments.
You can also benefit personally from creating an ethical will. By developing an ethical will you can gain a certain peace of mind that you’ve done your best to communicate everything you want. It also gives you the opportunity to self-reflect, which could emotionally deepen your own life.
The idea of the ethical will is over 3,500 years old, and with today’s technology there are a variety of forms it can take. Instead of a written letter, you could make a video, a PowerPoint slide show, or a digital scrapbook. There are even iPhone apps specifically for crafting an ethical will.
Everyone has a spiritual legacy. Ethical wills give you the means to communicate that important part of inheritance to your loved ones.