Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Teaching About Ethical Wills

Last week I started teaching a workshop on Ethical Wills at the University of Illinois Extension Office in Bourbonnais, Illinois. With eighteen participants, we’ve had some excellent discussions about the merits and purpose of writing one.

I was delighted with the results of the first home assignments they shared. By the way, it’s important to honor their preferences as far as whether to share any of their thoughts or writing. So when I ask volunteers to read what they’ve come up with, each person has the option to pass, with no questions asked. Since writing can be such a personal experience, I think this is an important distinction.

The majority of the participants are mature women, with a few men and younger ladies thrown in. One woman surprised me by bringing in and reading her father’s Ethical Will, written some thirty years ago. Surprisingly, she also brought one that was written by someone for her brother.

Neither document was actually called an Ethical Will, but rather each was a letter to a specific family member. Unfortunately, we seem to have lost the fine art of letter writing. When was the last time you received a letter, especially one with cursive writing?

Wouldn’t you treasure a written letter from a beloved parent, grandparent, or friend who has passed away? If so, please consider writing an Ethical Will to leave for your own loved ones. It doesn’t have to be long or a cumbersome work. In just a paragraph or two, or perhaps a couple of pages, you can leave a precious legacy letter that can be cherished for generations.

Parts of an Ethical Will

1. Opening
2. Your History - Past & Present
3. Life Lessons & Achievements
4. Personal Values & Beliefs
5. Hopes for the Future
6. Closure

Are you ready to start writing your own Ethical Will? Then you’ve come to the right place. Stay tuned for more details on how to create a precious legacy letter.