Understanding Ethical Wills

An ethical Will, also known as a legacy letter, is the medium in which to share your values, hopes, life lessons, blessings and dreams for the future with your near and dear ones and the community at large.

It’s important to understand that an ethical Will is not a legal document as it does not distribute your material possessions or wealth. It is an expression of what you feel deep inside your heart and what truly matters to you the most in your life.

The advent of Ethical Wills can be traced back in both the Christian and the Hebrew Bible along with references from other cultures as well. It is not something that is new as it has clearly been around for ages. Today Ethical Wills are penned down by people when they are at crossroads in their lives and are dealing with tough situations. Once written these Wills are usually shared with the immediate families and loved ones and with the community as well while the writer of the Will is alive and well.

An Ethical Will has the potential to be one of the most treasured and consequential gifts that you can award your family with.

Writing An Ethical Will – Why?

  •       Helps us to ponder over things that we hold close to our hearts and makes us recognise what we stand for.
  •       Helps us to articulate what we value the most in the present and ensures that we take steps to carry forth those values for future generations.
  •       We end up learning a lot about our own self while writing an Ethical Will. Gives us an understanding of who we are at the crux of it all.
  •       Helps up to identify with our own mortality by creating something that is meaningful and thoughtful that will continue to exist long after we are gone.
  •       Gives us all a sense of completion and achievement in our lives.
  •       It helps us tell our stories – who we are, where we come from and what we stand for. Nobody else will take the effort of carrying forth our legacy and then it will be lost forever.
  •       We can be remembered and our memories will be cherished because we stood by our values and leave it behind for other to follow and practice.

What Does An Ethical Will Stand For?

An Ethical Will is the reflection of our persona and it conveys the “voice of the heart”. Imagine it to be like a love letter addressed to your family. Each Ethical Will is has its own uniqueness and it resonates with the person who wrote it.

Traditionally, Ethical Wills have comprised of personal and spiritual values, blessings and instructions regarding burial. Mentioned below, is a partial list of the most common premises for modern Ethical Wills.

  •       Personal beliefs and values that you trust in the most.
  •       Spiritual beliefs and values that you wish to pass on.
  •       Blessings and hopes that you wish for the future generations to come.
  •       Life lessons that you have amassed over the years and your personal experience.
  •       Love and forgiveness that you wish to pass and also that you seek.

When Can You Write An Ethical Will?

Mentioned below are some of the occasions where you should consider drafting an Ethical Will:

  •       Couples getting betrothed

70% of divorces seem to occur within the first 5 years of marriage. Writing an Ethical Will can help couples to clearly understand each other’s expectations and values and this can go a long way in fostering a strong foundation for the marriage. Clergies today are attending to this issue today.

  •       New Expectant Parents

It is no surprise that children aren’t born with a user’s manual attached. An Ethical Will can provide the basis of common values that can be approached to look after a child and increase the understanding between partners regarding their important values.

  •       Couples Getting Divorced

Even during divorce, an Ethical Will can offer reassurance and security for the partners and children (if any). This can be done by presenting substantial evidence of what’s important to each partner.

  •       Growing Families

Ethical Wills can come to the rescue of growing families as it can be used to teach and pass on good values to the children. Writing these values down can potentially improve communication and have more emphasis as well.

While you are writing down your last Will and testament, you can complement it with an ethical Will for a little something extra for your family and friends. You can use a Will template to draft your Will.

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