You probably prepared your Will before you officially became a “senior citizen”.
Most of us put one together early in life, at least when we have children. We need to make sure the kids are taken care of in the case of an accident that suddenly takes us out of their lives.
There is a good feeling that goes with knowing that you have made sure your affairs are in order long before you need to them to be. Senior citizens today are in the best health of any other generation. So while you are still healthy, active and vibrant, now is the time to make sure your insurance, funeral directives and wills are all in order so you have that information on file and a designated loved one well trained in the event of your early departure from this life.
But there is one will you may have left out of your preparations so far. That is what is called your Ethical Will. It is unlike any other document you will prepare. This document has no legal bearing on your estate. It does not pass along property or instruct your executor on how you want your financial, business or property affairs to be handled. Instead, your Ethical Will passes along to your loved ones something more precious than property. It passes along your values.
An Ethical Will is a very personal document or set of documents used to resolve issues that may be remaining at end of life, to communicate the ethics and morals behind your legal decisions or to provide sage instructions to your children or friends about how you want them to carry on your legacy of charitable work or value based activities once you are gone.
In a way, the Ethical Will requires more thought, prayer and consideration of what you actually want to say to your loved ones than your conventional will. Typically, you prepare an Ethical Will to be given or read to your loved ones after funeral as a way of giving them one last touch of who you really are as a person. So you can see that an Ethical Will can be a precious memory that will be treasured long past when your wealth or possessions are no longer around.
Your Ethical Will may be passed from generation to generation. Just imagine if you had a document written by your grandparents or great grandparents that spoke with heart and from a personal perspective about what they found wonderful about life, where their values took them and what they would pass to you from their heart to you, their child far off in the future. That document would be of tremendous value to you and would be precious to your children and grandchildren down the line.
Ethical Wills can also be used to seek forgiveness for wrongs committed that you just could not resolve in life. Conversely, you can give forgiveness where it may be needed and heal a life long rift between you and a family member and provide peace and closure as you go to your reward. You don’t have to prepare just one Ethical Will. You could prepare a separate one for each child, for your spouse and for your business associates and friends. Obviously each will address a different level of intimacy and arena of values and ethics.
It’s a good thing to think about if you want to leave an Ethical Will for your friends and loved ones. If you take the time to put down on paper your heart and soul in this way, it will be source of comfort for a level of your “affairs” that you put in order well in advance that is even more meaningful than your conventional will or other end of life documents.