Kim Kirmmse Toth - Small Business Coach

How important is an Ethical Will to Boomer Women? Very.

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Ethical Wills have been around for many generations but seem to be regaining their strength. That may be simply because many of you are getting to the stage in life where you begin thinking about what you are passing along to your children or other loved ones.

Another term for Ethical Will might be a “Values and Vision Statement.” In a nutshell, it is a tool for passing your memories, values and traditions to our loved ones and future generations.

Keep in mind that an Ethical Will is not a legal document. It is a private communication that is usually not made public unless the writer wants it to be. In past times, these were normally not read until after somebody passed, but the modern adaptation of this tradition provides for sharing while the author or writer is still alive.

ethical_willsWhy would you want to write an Ethical Will? These are letters from the heart and you will each have your own unique reasons for writing one….or many. Here are some thoughts on why:

* It gives you an opportunity to reflect on your life
* It may give you an opportunity to come to terms with your own mortality by creating something of meaning that will be around long after you are gone
* It’s a way to affirm the past and to be positive about the future
* It affirms what other people mean to you
* It may open doors to forgiving others as well as being forgiven (which can be very healing)
* It gives you an opportunity to tell stories that can be passed down (if you don’t tell the stories they may be lost forever
* It gives you an opportunity to articulate your values, your hopes and dreams
* It may be a spiritual experience for you that provides a sense of completion

It is easier to write an Ethical Will when you know the principles you value. Consider that your guide can influence and inspire generations to come.

Another question may be ‘how do I write an Ethical Will?’ There is no right or wrong way to do this. Some people may chose to write them on paper, use video or may chose to record them for a verbal Ethical Will.

Here are some examples of where you might want to begin the process.

* Begin with an outline and list of suggestions, create a rough draft and then personalize
* Take a blank sheet of paper and write down any thoughts, experiences or feelings you would want to share. You may notice that themes will emerge and you will create a structure for your ‘love letter’
* Ideas
::::: From my grandparents I learned…..
::::: From my parents I learned…..
::::: I am most grateful for…..
::::: From experiences I learned…..

When might you write an Ethical Will? In the past they were written during someone’s final days. Today they may be written at different ‘transitional’ stage of your life. Some thoughts are:

* Marriage or divorce
* The birth of a grandchild
* Career transitions
* End of a life stage such as middle life and beyond
* Death of a spouse
* When you or the person you are writing to are facing a challenging event or life situation

These ideas just touch on the many opportunities you may have in your lifetime that it may feel appropriate for you to share your thoughts and feelings in a manner that can be handed down.

To summarize, Ethical Wills are a wonderful way that you can guide and influence future generations while at the same time creating a sense of immortality. You can write about stories from your past, lessons learned or regret. You can share your values, beliefs, or expressions of love and gratitude. It’s a lovely way to share your advice and guidance, as well as dreams, blessings and hope for the future.

© 2009 Kim Kirmmse Toth

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2 Comments


  1. Sharon Lippincott
    Sep 17, 2009

    These lists are a great place to start, and an okay place to leave things. For the most powerful results, make the list, then take each item and write one or more short stories illustrating how the lesson was learned. The next step beyond that is arranging the vignette stories into an overall flow of spiritual or ethical lesson stories over the course of time. This final result will be a Spiritual Memoir. Don’t let the word memoir deter you. Memoir is valuable if you write only for yourself. It’s a powerful tool for self-exploration, and a powerful tool for conveying life lessons and experience to others. It’s whatever you make of it and use it for.


  2. Kim Kirmmse Toth
    Sep 22, 2009

    Sharon, I like the idea of the Spiritual Memiors. There are so many ways to leave a legacy to those we love. I think sometimes we need to be reminded too, we get so caught up in our ‘busyness’
    Thanks for the comment!

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