Ethical Will

The Best Legacy You Can Leave

Ethical Will Image, values, planningMany seniors work hard on an estate plan to pass on finances and personal items after their death.  They complete an Advance Directive or Power of Attorney, name their representative, and complete their will.  And while financially providing for your family is important, equally important is letting them know the value they gave you while you were alive.  Read on to learn how an Ethical Will leaves the best legacy of all-letting others know their value to your life!

What is an Ethical Will?

An Ethical Will is a document that expresses the journey of your life and those who impacted it.    An Ethical Will is also known as a Legacy Letter.  It is not a legal document.  It is a personal expression of your journey through life.

Ethical Wills have deep historical roots.  According to the Society for Certified Senior Advisors, the  concept is mentioned in the Old Testament as a means to honor the death of the author.  Today, other cultures use versions of the Ethical Will including China and Japan.

Best Time to Write Your Ethical Will

Originally, the concept of an Ethical Will, was to document the end of life.  However, this has evolved to cover any area of life.  You can start and document in your Ethical Will anytime in your life.  Recommended times to capture your journey include:

  • Milestones-marriage, births, life transitions, buying or selling a home
  • Career Successes and Changes
  • Milestones of Other Important People-spouse, significant other, children, grandchildren
  • Shared Events-military experience, member of an organization, volunteer work
  • Favorite Quotes, Role Models, or Places
  • Challenges and Triumps
  • Anything important to You

Best Way to Write Your Ethical Will

Your Ethical Will is unique and there is no right or wrong way to write it.  In fact, you don’t have to write it at all.  You can record your thoughts in an audio recorder or you film your journey in a video.  Some ideas to help you get started include:

  • Start with an outline
  • Consider organizing your journey by decade, milestone, or person
  • Collect pictures, quotes, cartoons, articles, and other items of interest to use in your Ethical Will
  • Write a letter to each person who enriched and added value to your life


An Ethical Will is a great way to leave a legacy.  Everyone wants to be remembered and believe their life had meaning.  It is not always easy to express your thoughts and feelings about others while you are alive.  An Ethical Will is a great way to leave your legacy and let those you love know how much value they gave you.

For more tips on real estate, aging-in-place, and not outliving your money, request a copy of our free book, The Northwest Indiana Guide for Seniors.