Ethical Wills have been around for many generations but seem to be regaining their strength. That may be simply because many of you are getting to the stage in life where you begin thinking about what you are passing along to your children or other loved ones.

Another term for Ethical Wills might be a “Values and Vision Statement.” In a nutshell, it is a tool for passing your memories, values and traditions to your loved ones and future generations.

Keep in mind that an Ethical Will is not a legal document. It is a private communication that is usually not made public unless the writer wants it to be. In past times these were normally not read until after somebody passed but the modern adaptation of this tradition provides for sharing while the author or writer is still alive.

Why would you want to write an Ethical Will? These are letters from the heart and you will each have your own unique reasons for writing one….or many. Here are some thoughts on why:

• It gives you an opportunity to reflect on your life
• It may give you an opportunity to come to terms with your own mortality by creating something of meaning that will be around long after you are gone
• It’s a way to affirm the past and to be positive about the future
• It affirms what other people mean to you
• It may open doors to forgiving others as well as being forgiven (which can be very healing)
• It gives you an opportunity to tell stories that can be passed down (if you don’t tell the stories they may be lost forever
• It gives you an opportunity to articulate your values, your hopes and dreams
• It may be a spiritual experience for you that provides a sense of completion

It is easier to write an Ethical Will when you know the principles you value.

Consider that you can guide, influence and inspire generations to come.

Another question may be ‘how do I write an Ethical Will?’ There is no right or wrong ways to do this. Some people may chose to write them on paper, use video or you may chose to record them for a verbal Ethical Will.

Here are some examples of where you might want to begin the process.

• Begin with an outline and list of suggestions, create a rough draft and then personalize
• Take a blank sheet of paper and write down any thoughts, experiences or feelings you would want to share. You may notice that themes will emerge and you will create a structure for your ‘love letter’
• Ideas:?* From my grandparents I learned...?* From my parents I learned...?* I am most grateful for...?* From experiences I learned...

When might you write an Ethical Will? In the past they were written during someone’s final days. Today they may be written at different ‘transitional’ stage of your life. Some thoughts are:

• Marriage or divorce
• The birth of a grandchild
• Career transitions
• End of a life stage such as mid life and beyond
Death of a spouse
• When you or the person you are writing to are facing a challenging event or life situation

These ideas just touch on the many opportunities you may have in your lifetime when it may feel appropriate for you to share your thoughts and feelings in a manner that can be handed down.

To summarize, Ethical Wills are a wonderful way that you can guide and influence future generations while at the same time creating a sense of immortality. You can write about stories from your past, lessons learned or regrets. You can share your values, beliefs, or expressions of love and gratitude. It’s a lovely way to share your advice and guidance, as well as dreams, blessings and hope for the future.

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Kim Kirmmse Toth lcsw, acc, cmc is a Transitions Strengths Based Coach and Trainer specializing in empowering women 55-75 to tap into their strengths and their creativity. Are you ready to tap into your power and your brilliance? If you are ready to begin creating the next big transition in your life, to ensure it's as successful as your career get your Free Top Ten Secrets to a Successful Retirement now at or visit