Despite the fact that relatively few people today know about ethical wills, they have existed throughout most of Judeo-Christian history. Stories of ethical wills exist in both the New and Old Testament.
Unlike traditional wills that transfer worldly possessions, an ethical will bequeaths values, ideas and personal reflections to family members and other loved ones. It is a document filled with thoughts, values, life events and wisdom – the things that are important enough to you, that you want to pass them on. An ethical will is like a window into your soul that your family will cherish.
An ethical will is not a legal document, and need not be lengthy or time consuming to produce. A few well-stated paragraphs from the heart can be meaningful to family and friends. There is no magical formula, template, or content for an ethical will. What makes it so important is that it expresses the essence of your heart and your personality. Your own creativity is your only limitation.
An ethical will is a gift to the giver as well as the receiver. Writing it helps us to clarify our values and put life in perspective. It helps us to look inward, to see the essential truths one has learned throughout a lifetime, and to consider what the things really count. Sometimes very late in life, our mental and physical capacities can diminish, so you can never begin too soon.
Consider adding an Ethical Will to your estate plan. It just might be the most important thing that you pass on to family and friends.