Ethical Will or Intergen Conversation?

By Shae Hadden | Bio

I was reading an article about ethical wills recently that got me wondering about what kind of legacy I might leave behind if I were to die tomorrow. This type of ‘leave behind’ document—like diaries, journals, books, letters and photo albums—are usually loving prepared over the course of several years. Nowadays, we also have innumerable opportunities to record our lives and thoughts online to share with friends and family. So why bother going to the trouble of preparing an ethical will in addition to a legal will?

According to the article, an ethical will offers us an opportunity to communicate with loved ones on paper. We can share things like:

  • Our values
  • Our life history
  • Our regrets and our gratitude
  • The lessons we’ve learned
  • Our hopes for the future

It saddens me to think of these being communicated in a will. True, sharing lessons learned in a document as one approaches death or as one’s last words after death is better than not communicating them at all.

But I see more value if we can use the document as a starting point for conversation with younger family members and friends while we are alive and well—then we can be sure what we’re sharing is clearly understood and ‘gotten’ by others. By being in conversation, we not only get to share who we are, but we also offer people opportunities to ask questions of us, to clarify and expand on our wisdom, and to use the best of what we have to offer now (instead of waiting until later).

I don’t have time to sit down and write an ethical will right now. So I ask, “Why hold back from sharing myself now in every conversation I’m in?” I have no answer. Do you?

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