The Ethical Will, is a personal, written or dictated record of your and your family’s stories, life philosophy, legacy, and goals. Ethical wills are a way to share your values, achievements, blessings, life lessons, hopes and dreams for the future, love, and forgiveness with your family, friends, and community.
Ethical wills are not new. Initially, ethical wills were transmitted orally. Over time, they evolved into written documents.
The Hebrew Bible first described ethical wills 3000 years ago (Genesis Ch. 49). References to this tradition are also found in the Christian Bible (John Ch. 15-18) and in other cultures. Written for succeeding generations, the ethical will offers an opportunity to add to personal family knowledge and history to express one’s life accomplishments, values, and legacy wishes for the family.
An 'ethical will' is not considered a legal document as compared to a ‘living will' or ‘last will and testament' which are legal documents.
Examples of categories for Ethical Will:
● Your personal philosophy
● Religious philosophy
● Thoughts about hope and the future
● Thoughts about your family legacy
Potential Topics for an Ethical Will
- Dedication: To family or friends?
- My reasons for making this ethical will My feelings about my life
- How I feel about today’s world My life philosophy
- My thoughts about what is good and what is bad The things for which I am grateful
- How I feel others should be treated My goals in life
- My rules and standards for living Standing up for what you believe
- How I deal with emotional issues Despair
- Anger Faith
- Self-Importance Procrastination
- How I have grown from past experience Live life to the fullest
- Devotion Happiness Charity Courage Compassion
- Luck and good fortune Loyalty
- How I have tried to attain financial security Reviving memories and reflecting on the past
- How I have learned to overcome Loneliness
- Finding fault
- Being overextended Facing unpleasantness Injustice
- Despair of our times
- How faith and belief influenced my life Spirituality and religion, the role of prayer Controlling despair
- My thoughts on Life and Death
- My hopes for the future and my descendant's
- My favorite poem, music, or other beloved writing