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Ethical Wills : Giving Voice to Our Heart

In preparation for our demise we take care of our property and medical care but what a comfort it would be to have one last meaningful conversation with the people we love. This is where an Ethical Will can be helpful.  

Ethical Wills have been around as long as the bible (think of the Patriarchs giving blessings at the end of their lives to their sons). They are as unique as the person writing them. They may be practical or personal -contain burial instructions, blessings, personal and spiritual values, hopes for the future, life’s lessons, giving or accepting forgiveness and so on.

An Ethical Will is not an easy thing to write. In doing it, we confront our inner truths, face our failures and consider the things that really count. In writing it, we learn a great deal about ourself. This may be the most intimate conversation we have with someone. This is something tangible that we can leave to the people we love; a piece of ourself that may be more valuable than anything in our estate. We want to be able to share what we’ve found most important in life, and we want them to know how we feel about them.  

There are no formal or legal requirements about how Ethical Wills are written but may begin with our own personal reflections on what we consider worth passing on to the next generation. An Ethical Will can become part of a family’s tradition and archive and may be composed at any stage of one’s life and revised accordingly.  

Writing an Ethical Will stirs up many emotional areas. It recognizes there is an end to life and that death is real. It clarifies what is important to us and is our last love letter. 

For further help:

“So That Your Values Live On: Ethical Wills and How to Prepare Them” by Rabbi Jack Riemer and Nathaniel Stampfer  

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