Ethical Wills: Passing Wisdom Beyond Wealth

Ethical Wills: Passing Wisdom Beyond Wealth

January 19, 2024

Crafting Your Ethical Will for a Lasting Legacy

Most people include a will or trust, power of attorney and medical directives in in their estate plan. These documents ensure your assets are managed properly and your health care decisions are handled according to your wishes. What about the more intangible items like your personal history, values and core beliefs? You may also want to pass these along to future generations.

An ethical will, also known as a "legacy letter," is a document that conveys a person's values, beliefs, and life lessons to their loved ones and future generations. Unlike a legal will, which focuses on the distribution of assets and property, an ethical will is a non-binding document that expresses a person's hopes and wishes for the future. It can be communicated in a variety of formats, including written documents, audio recordings, or videos.

An ethical will can include a variety of things, such as personal stories, family history, religious or spiritual beliefs, moral principles, and important life lessons. It gifts a person’s wisdom, love, and legacy.

An ethical will may help individuals to:

  • Communicate their values and beliefs: By sharing these insights with loved ones, they can provide guidance and inspiration for generations to come.
  • Clarify their own values: The creation process can help them to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their priorities.
  • Connect with loved ones: By sharing their thoughts and feelings, individuals can create a sense of closeness and understanding that may not have existed before.
  • Create a lasting legacy: By passing on their values and beliefs to future generations, individuals can create a lasting legacy that extends beyond their physical presence.


There are several ways to convey an ethical will. Here are some examples:

  • Written document: The most traditional and common way to create an ethical will is to write a letter or document that conveys your values, beliefs, and life lessons. This can be a formal document or a more personal letter, depending on your preferences. You can share this document with your loved ones while you are still alive, or it can be read after you have passed away.
  • Audio or video recording: These methods can be a more personal way to convey your message, as your loved ones can hear your voice or see your face as you share your thoughts and feelings.
  • Scrapbook or photo album: A scrapbook or photo album that includes pictures, mementos, and written notes that reflect your values and life lessons can be a creative and meaningful way to share your message with your loved ones.
  • Family meeting or gathering: A gathering can be a more interactive and engaging way to share your message, as it allows your loved ones to ask questions and share their own thoughts and feelings.

Overall, the format of an ethical will depends on your preferences and the message you want to convey. You can choose a method that best reflects your personality and values, and that will resonate most with your family.

An ethical will is a meaningful way to leave a legacy of values and wisdom to those you love.