How to Write an Ethical Will


Writing an ethical will may seem difficult. However, it can be viewed as the writing of a love letter to your family. Ethical Wills can include personal and spiritual values, hopes, experiences, love, and forgiveness. It may well be one of the most cherished gifts you can give to your family.


There are several ways to approach the task, with varying degrees of help and guidance.


Approach #1: Write over a period of time as thoughts come to you.


This is the most open-ended approach. Keeping a journal or diary is an excellent way to write about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Over time, review what you've written. Themes will emerge from which you can create a comfortable structure for your ethical will. Reading examples of ethical wills other people have written might give you ideas about what to include.


Over time, write down a sentence or two about things like:


  • Your beliefs and opinions
  • Things you did to act on your values
  • Something you learned from grandparents / parents / spouse / children
  • Something you learned from experience
  • Something you are grateful for
  • Your hopes for the future
  • After a few weeks or months, review what you've collected. Group related items together – patterns will emerge. Revise and expand the related categories into paragraphs. Arrange the paragraphs into an order that makes sense to you. Finally, add an introduction and conclusion.

Put this aside for a few weeks, then review and revise it.


Approach #2: Use guided writing exercises.

A suggested outline structure and a list of possible items to choose from can make the writing task much quicker and easier. The Ethical Wills / Legacy Letters Workbook has been developed for this approach. The comprehensive book Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper contains even more guided exercises and examples.


Approach #3:

Have a facilitator work with you personally to guide you through the process. Certified Legacy Facilitators are available to coach you through your Legacy Journey via phone consultations, in-person sessions or group writing workshops.