How do you want to be remembered?
An ethical will or personal legacy letter is a way to pass on a declaration of your values and beliefs, your hopes and dreams, to your loved ones. It can stand alone, or it can be included as past of a personal history — for example, as a preface or the concluding chapter. An ethical will is a very special, very personal way to provide your family with an understanding of the non-material legacy you cherish.
There is no standard format for an ethical will. It can be written or recorded; it can be formal or informal; it can be just a page or two or many pages long. Some ethical wills contain stories that illustrate turning points or life lessons. Some contain advice for future generations. The only rule is that an ethical will must come from the heart.
There is no set process for creating an ethical will; however, I will be pleased to help you with any of:
- Determining purpose and focus. The first and most important step is to identify why and for whom you wish to leave an ethical will.
- Reflection. Taking time to contemplate your life experience will help you articulate the values, beliefs and principles that have guided you.
- Communicating your personal legacy. Shaping your thoughts into words that convey your deepest convictions is a way to invite your loved ones into your heart.
- Presentation. Should your ethical will be written or spoken? If written, by hand or printed? Should you include photos or other material to complement your words? It can help to discuss the options.
Because the focus is narrower than with a life story, ethical wills are shorter projects. Your investment might be as little as a few hours of consultation, or as much as several hours of interview, editing and production, depending on what you decide to do. It is important to allow yourself ample time for reflection, so expect an ethical will to take a few weeks to a few months to complete.