When you think about estate planning the financial aspects are probably going to occupy your mind. You must prepare all of the assets that you have been able to accumulate throughout your life for distribution to your loved ones, and this is indeed a formidable task. In a sense it is like the ultimate act of spring cleaning, identifying everything you have tucked away over many decades. And then you have to determine who will be getting what as it were and how best to deliver it.
But aside from the financial aspect, there is an emotional side to estate planning as well. Most people can come to terms with their own mortality as it applies to them personally, but it can feel empty to come to the realization that you will no longer be there for your loved ones. You will be leaving behind financial resources, but there are some things that money can’t buy and there is no substitute for the wisdom that you have acquired throughout your life via the many experiences that you have had.
People have felt this way for centuries, and one response that dates back to biblical times is the creation of an ethical will. These documents are not legally binding in any way; they are simply intended to pass on information to your loved ones that is of a personal nature. It can be instructive, sharing your ethical and spiritual values, but there are no hard and fast rules. The ethical will is a final letter to the ones that you love expressing whatever it is that you would like them to know.
In the long run, this type of heartfelt sharing may be the most valuable thing that you can leave behind to your family members. And in addition to the meaning it has to the readers, writing out an ethical will can also be a cathartic experience for the author.