Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Bonnie Kraham: Passing Values with an Ethical Will

IStock-147333474-1351x900An ethical will is your written words that convey who you are and what you stand for. A will is not a legal document and you do not have to have one. A will may not be for everyone. When we leave this earth, an ethical will leaves behind proof of our essence. It provides a snapshot of our hearts and souls. 

If there are any words of wisdom or advice that you would love to pass on to your children, grandchildren, other family members and loved ones, an ethics will may be for you. 

There are two other wills that are typically used in event planning: A "last will and testament" that states where assets go upon death. This is the type of will you are likely most familiar with. The second, a "Living will", which is a medial directive that states end of life wishes such as resuscitation and other heroic means of lifesaving treatments in case you're incapacitated. Essentially, a will is a statement of the creator's intent. 

Ethical wills have been around for centuries and have historically been used to leave a legacy of "moral assets" when people had little control over owning material assets or the disposition of assets on death. This type of will was especially proper among women due to the laws and norms that prevented them from owning property or signing legal documents. 

If you are thinking about writing an ethical will you may start with a few questions: Have you had a meaningful life? Have you fulfilled your purpose? How will you be remembered? How do you want to be remembered?

The ethical will should be a treasure from the heart with tellings of the past, present, and the future. 

See Bonnie Kraham, Bonnie Kraham: Passing Values with an Ethical WillTimes-Herald Record, June 20, 2020.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.


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