If you had one week left to live, what would you want to make sure your family members knew and remembered about you? What words of wisdom, advice, or encouragement would you want to leave behind? Are there any messages you’d want to communicate to your spouse, children, grandchildren, or others? Now, what would be the best way to make sure your parting message stuck with your loved ones? Would you put your words in the form of a letter, or a story, a video?
The answers to these questions are the things that make up an ethical will. An ethical will is different from other estate planning documents. For one thing, it is not legally binding. For another thing, it has nothing to do with passing on property or putting someone in charge of settling your estate.
An ethical will is one way for you to leave a non-financial legacy to your family members and other loved ones. There are no rules for what goes into an ethical will; it can take any form you want it to take, and it can contain any message you want to pass on. You might want to use yours to express your love and appreciation to your husband or wife, or to provide guidance or encouragement to your children or grandchildren as they grow up, or to tell your life story or your family history.
Whatever you choose to say, and however you choose to say it, it’s important to provide a spiritual, ethical, and personal legacy for your loved ones along with a financial one.