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What is an Ethical Will?

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The benefits of chronicling a life’s journey

Baines recounts the story of how he became interested in the topic of ethical wills.

During a hospice team meeting, he was told about a man dying from pancreatic cancer. The man was only in his late 40′s and was consumed with the fear that he would soon be forgotten once he died. He was, as Haines puts it, “afraid of losing his transcendence,” his ability to impact the lives of his progeny.

Upon hearing this man’s story, Baines and a team of hospice workers and spiritual counselors got together and came up with a list of questions to ask the man about his life and his values—essentially creating the outline for an ethical will. Once the man was done penning his answers, the immense burden of his spiritual suffering was lifted.

According to Baines, this is the most profound benefit that people—particularly those who are suffering from a terminal illness—receive from writing an ethical will. Though he also says that, no matter what stage of life someone choses to put their goals and beliefs on paper, they often find a profound sense of peace once they are done.

Even the caregiver, whose life is not coming to an end, may find serenity and even a sense of accomplishment when they take the time to sit down and think about the lessons and they have learned and the values they have upheld during their caregiving journey.

Caregivers and seniors can also benefit from working on their ethical wills together. Common themes are likely to come up and bonding can occur over shared experiences and wisdom.

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Ethical Wills Lend Clarity to Caregivers and Serenity to Seniors originally appeared on

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11:54AM PDT on May 30, 2012

This seems like a lovely idea... and one I had not heard of in quite this way before.

8:59AM PDT on May 23, 2012

Many thanks

8:25AM PDT on May 23, 2012

Wow, what a powerful idea!

5:08PM PDT on May 21, 2012

I wrote letters to my family members to put in with my legal will. Asked for them back several months ago as I need to update the letters. Better get to it! Thank you for the inspiration.

10:22PM PDT on May 20, 2012

My father-in-law passed away last September. He left numerous photo albums of people who were unnamed. We have no idea who they are. I regret that we did not look at these photos while he was living, then we would be able to tell our son who his ancestors were. Most of us wait too late to ask these questions.

5:58PM PDT on May 20, 2012

Even just sitting down with your grandmother and her photo album and recording the conversation opens up quite a bit of knowledge even of her childhood friends and the places the family lived.

Thanks for the article.

2:30PM PDT on May 20, 2012

Good info to have. Thanks for the article Anne.

11:31PM PDT on May 19, 2012

My father wrote his family history for a booklet, of course, also briefly mentioning my mother's background history. It could have been far more comprehensive - that's why I think it should not be left till someone is at an advanced age. I really value it because his life experiences were so different to today's world.

3:01PM PDT on May 19, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

2:48PM PDT on May 19, 2012

aww very interesting

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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