We all want to leave behind a legacy. No matter how rich or poor you are the best legacy we can gift our children and our community is our values. Through an ethical will we all can leave a true, personal legacy of our values and love.

You can all write an ethical will that will share your values, blessings, life’s lessons, hopes and dreams for the future, love, and forgiveness.

The Hebrew Bible first described ethical wills in Genesis Ch. 49. References to this tradition are also found in the Christian Bible, John Ch. 15-18. Ethical wills are also described in other cultural traditions.

Ethical wills are not legal documents and should not be confused with living wills or last will and testaments. Instead, they are documents written from the heart without regard to local, state or federal law. They are meant to share your feelings, love, offer guidance, an apology or convey any final message you want to give to friends, family or community.

Anyone, including you can write an ethical will. They can be constructed in any format you wish. You can direct that they be read publicly or privately. Some people have directed their will to be read at a memorial service, or as my mother did they can be given to individuals (in my mom’s case there were three letters each written to her three children).

Ethical wills can be one of the most cherished and meaningful gifts you can leave to your family and community.

Why don’t you write your own Ethical Will.

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW