What is a Legacy Letter or Ethical Will?

Ethical wills are a way to share your love with family and close friends. Think of an ethical will as a heartfelt letter or legacy letter describing what truly matters most in your life. An ethical will passes on life lessons, values, joys, prayers, hopes, and dreams for present and future generations. It doesn't have to be anything fancy--just a letter from the heart that expresses your thoughts.

Unlike a Last Will and Testament or a Living Will, an ethical will is NOT a legal document. An ethical will describes your treasures of the heart, not your treasures.

Why should you write your ethical will?

1. There is no one else like YOU! You have incredible wisdom and experience to share—no matter what your age or background. Every day is a gift so TODAY is the day to begin recording the most important information for your family and other loved ones.

2. Your ethical will has the potential to affect multiple generations perhaps even hundreds of years from now. They will read your hopes and dreams for them. They will be reminded of what was really and truly important to you and what you wanted them to always remember. Your legacy letter will help them walk in your shoes and truly know you in a new and powerful way.

3. Writing an ethical will or legacy letter is a journey of self discovery. You may be reminded of all the love you have experienced in your life. You've accomplished many things through the years. You'll have the opportunity to recall both the joys and challenges of your life--and realize how remarkable a life it has been. You may even be inspired as you move forward with the next chapter of your life.

Remember that an ethical will is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your children and grandchildren.

Once you complete your ethical will or legacy letter, it is important to put your ethical will in a safe place—someplace where your loved ones will be sure to find it someday (perhaps with your Last Will and Testament). You may also want to share your ethical will with your family and friends at the time you write it. An ethical will certainly can help in communicating how you really feel and it may be a great conversation starter.