Here you will learn how to create an ethical will with the help of technology. But before that, you need to know what ethical will is.
What Is an Ethical Will? (why create an ethical will?)
To create an ethical will you first need to know what ethical will is.
An ethical will is not the same as a last will and testament, which is a legally binding document that specifies who will inherit financial wealth. A last will and testament are concerned with monetary inheritance, whereas an ethical will is concerned with moral inheritance.
Ethical wills can reflect your personality because there are no formal rules or requirements. They allow you to share blessings and future dreams while imparting wisdom, beliefs, and family history through letters, video messages, audio recordings, scrapbooks, and artwork. Old photos, favorite quotes or prayers, cherished items of clothing, secret family recipes, lush lullabies, or treasured stories with signature punch lines can all be used to convey life lessons. The key is to speak from your heart.
While financial wills are usually read after death, ethical wills can be shared while you’re still alive. Families can gather to hear origin stories, explore spirituality, solve family mysteries, or ask their loved ones direct questions. Ethical wills are a centuries-old Jewish tradition, with examples found on deathbeds throughout the Bible. For centuries, Jewish parents shared their wisdom and values with their children in tzevaot, or end-of-life letters.
Ethical Will brief description
Lester Lipschutz, an internationally recognized trusts and estates attorney and adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, has clients who create letters, books, and videos to explain their passionate commitment to philanthropy and community service as companions to their financial wills. Although the intended audience is typically grandchildren, these documents can be passed down through generations.
“It’s not about ego,” he explains. “It’s about telling a story that you don’t want to lose. Most people think about how to protect their assets from taxes and divorcing spouses, but they rarely consider how to protect their family’s values. It is beneficial to add more texture to a financial will, with less emphasis on taxes and more on leaving a meaningful moral legacy for future generations.”
Why Create an Ethical Will?
You may hear ethical wills and “legacy letters” mentioned in the same sentence, but they are not the same thing. Children and close family members are typically the recipients of ethical wills. Legacy letters can be addressed to anyone, whether related or not. Both provide meaningful messages to treasure.
Death discussions are never enjoyable. Death cannot be dressed up. Good snacks help (sweet, not savory), but broaching the subject is often difficult. The only thing more difficult than having an awkward conversation with a loved one while they are still alive is not having that conversation. Procrastination increases the likelihood of missing out on opportunities to ask critical questions, express feelings or offer forgiveness. The only conversations that haunt us are those that we are too afraid to have.
“For many, composing an ethical will may feel psychologically daunting!,” says a clinical psychologist in private practice in Manhattan who was previously on the teaching faculty of New York University. We instinctively avoid contemplating death and confronting the fragile and fleeting reality of our lives. Furthermore, how does one condense the essence of what you have valued in life into a single final document? If writing is not one’s natural or best mode of expression, I would advise them to start by talking with a loved one about the highlights of their lives, as well as the painful moments when they felt most tested and challenged. This reflection, a sort of free association, may yield useful nuggets to start the task.”
Is an Ethical Will Legally Binding?
An ethical will, unlike a last will and testament, is not legally binding. However, do not include anything that contradicts your legally binding financial will. An ethical will carries the weight of the heart, even if it has no legal weight. Choose your words wisely. Skip the section where you explain why you gave your daughter the car because she is your favorite. We all know who you loved the most, despite your claims that you loved us all equally (spoiler alert: it’s the baby, and… yes, I am).
“An ethical will is not only an opportunity to convey what is most meaningful to you for future generations. It may also be one last opportunity to heal any breaches or hurts that may have occurred with family or friends,” Altmann recently explained. This is an important consideration, as research has revealed that in the US, approximately 27 percent of individuals report being estranged from a family member.”
How to Draft Your Ethical Will?
Many families are reuniting in person this holiday season. So the timing is ideal for capturing wise words and priceless memories. Let’s begin with how to create an Ethical Will.
Step 1: Extend an Invitation
Ask seriously ill or elderly family members if they’d be willing to share stories, memories, or teachings and be filmed before a gathering. Highlight how this will be treasured by future generations. Watch this TEDx Talk on ethical wills and how to develop one for inspiration. “When we think about our deaths, there is very little under our control,” said Lucia Fanjul. She is an oncology social worker with CancerCare. An ethical will empowers us to shape and leave behind how we want our loved ones to remember us. An ethical will is simply our way of saying, “Remember, this is who I am.”
Step 2: Find Meaningful Questions
It is an art form to ask engaging, open-ended, probing questions. Everplan provides free, downloadable ethical will worksheets that include questions and thought-starters about your personal and professional history, political or religious beliefs, and future goals. These could include: a mistake I made that I hope you don’t make, an experience I hope you have, how I define happiness and success, and where I go for comfort when things get tough. This guide from Personal Legacy Advisors provides an elegant framework for $20 to help you envision, outline, and draft an ethical will.
Step 3: Get the Whole Family Involved
Invite younger family members to contribute their own questions, and assign teens to manage the technology. Break the ice with humor. There’s no need to maintain a serious “sermon” tone the entire time. Consider starting by having everyone share their favorite joke or a fond memory. Designate a quiet, comfortable room as your studio for private, one-on-one interviews when filming or recording. Storycorps provides a free app as well as self-directed recording tools to assist you in successfully recording the types of family stories we discussed earlier.
Step 4: Be Creative and Get Personal
To avoid platitudes and generic advice, try to capture specific family memories and stories. slugwagetunswage swag. What was the song? Then inquire about the principles of a happy marriage. Take a stroll through an old neighborhood and inquire about daily life back then. What were their hopes and dreams back then and now? President Obama‘s blessing to his daughters is a classic example, as is Marian Wright Edelman’s The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours.
Step 5: Start Early
Legacy projects aren’t just for end-of-life discussions. We can shape, revise, and redefine over time as family mission statements. Keep a journal of your thoughts at key moments in your life. Every birthday, write one page. Barry Baines, the renowned author of Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper, shared that Living Wisely‘s personal online portal “provides prompts and exercises for articulating what is important to you, allowing you to add to your ‘work in progress’ at any time, utilizing voice transcription or keyboarding on any computer, tablet, or smartphone” for a $25 annual subscription. StoryWorth sends out one thought-provoking question every week: What is one of your favorite childhood memories? What is the farthest distance you have traveled? Who are your favorite musicians? A hardcover book of your responses will cost $99. at the end of the year.
Step 6: Ask for Help
LifeChronicles films elderly and seriously ill loved ones at no cost if you prefer to outsource the job or simply need help managing the whole thing. The service provides a custom DVD after a tenderly guided interview professionally filmed at home (the app StoryCatcher Pro for iOS). Do you have writer’s block? For a sliding scale fee of $75-300, Frish Brandt, a “Letter Midwife,” conducts interviews and crafts Lasting Letters to loved ones. So That Your Values Live On Ethical Wills and How to Prepare Them, by Jack Reimer and Nathaniel Stampfer, is brimming with expert advice.
Step 7: Land a Good Ending
Ira Byock, a pioneer palliative care physician, describes in his book The Four Things That Matter Most what most people want to hear before saying goodbye: Please forgive me. I accept your apology. Thank you very much. I adore you. I’m so proud of you, Mom and Dad. That could be a perfect conclusion.
This is how you create an Ethical Will.