What makes a will “ethical?”
Also called a legacy letter, or spiritual letter, an ethical will has very little to do with its heavily-regulated cousin—the Last Will and Testament.
According to Barry Baines, M.D., a hospice physician and author of, Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper, an ethical will, in its simplest form, is, “a way to record and pass on your values, beliefs, faith, life lessons, love and forgiveness.”
Even though the concept of an ethical will has been around for over 3,500 years, few people are aware what one is, or how it differs from a traditional will.
There are no rigid rules that govern the construction of an ethical will. You don’t have to go to a lawyer to have one written up. There are no forms to fill out, and it doesn’t have to cost you anything beyond the sheet of paper it’s on and the pen you use to write it with.
An ethical will can include everything from an account of the family’s history, an important life lesson the person has learned, a list of secret family recipes, a person’s hopes and dreams for their descendants, etc.
There is no hard and fast set of rules governing what must be contained in a person’s ethical will, or even when it should be written.
A common time to write an ethical will is when a person is nearing the end of their life. But, Baines says that people also write ethical wills at key turning points throughout their lives: when they get married, have kids, or become empty nesters.
Ethical Wills Lend Clarity to Caregivers and Serenity to Seniors originally appeared on AgingCare.com.