It is not the same as a will and testament, and it can be shared with your loved ones while you are still alive.
Friends lamented my mother’s death 30 years ago, saying that at the age of 28, I barely had time to get her chicken soup recipe.
They were correct. I hadn’t done so. Who cares about soup, I thought, bereaved? I recently lost my best friend!
But now that my sons are adults, I want to pass down recipes from their grandmother, whom they never met, so that her legacy lives on in their kitchens. I’m after that recipe.
Cancer runs in my veins. As a third-generation cancer patient, I lost my mother in my twenties, my sister in our thirties, and my father in my forties.
I improved my goodbye skills out of necessity rather than choice. I’ve known for the past 12 years that I don’t want to repeat history with incurable but treatable lymphoma.
I began writing a love letter to my sons from my kitchen as I began my own recipe collection. I’d started an ethical will without realising it. It’s really that simple.
What Exactly Is an Ethical Will?
An ethical will is not the same as a last will and testament, which is a legally binding document that specifies who will inherit financial wealth. A last will and testament is concerned with monetary inheritance, whereas an ethical will is concerned with moral inheritance.
Ethical wills can reflect your personality because there are no formal rules or requirements.
They allow you to share blessings and future dreams while imparting wisdom, beliefs, and family history through letters, video messages, audio recordings, scrapbooks, and artwork.
Old photos, favourite quotes or prayers, cherished items of clothing, secret family recipes, lush lullabies, or treasured stories with signature punch lines can all be used to convey life lessons. The trick is to speak from the heart.
While financial wills are usually read after death, ethical wills can be shared while you’re still alive.
Families can gather to hear origin stories, explore spirituality, solve family mysteries, or ask their loved ones direct questions.
Ethical wills are a centuries-old Jewish tradition, with examples found on deathbeds throughout the Bible. For centuries, Jewish parents shared their wisdom and values with their children in tzevaot, or end-of-life letters.
Lester Lipschutz is a well-known trusts and estates lawyer and adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
They have clients who write letters, books, and videos to accompany their financial wills in order to express their deep commitment to philanthropy and community service.
Although the intended audience is typically grandchildren, these documents can be passed down through generations.
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