Ethical wills and love letters aren’t legal estate planning documents, but they can be just as important. They are really two words for the same thing: letting your loved ones know how you feel about them.
One individual, a 44 year old physical therapist, still has scraps of paper that he found after his father’s death 23 years ago. On these small scraps of paper, in his father’s handwriting, were words of praise and a description of how important his son was to him.
These scraps of paper are an ethical will or love letter. That’s all it takes.
There are books and many internet sites on ethical wills. If it makes you feel more comfortable to review the information, by all means, do so.
- Write a few words or a long letter.
- Draw a picture
- Or, frame a special picture of you with your loved one
- Make a video
- Write a poem
- Select a special tangible gift representing the relationship you shared
There is no right or wrong. Just do it. It will be cherished.
Some folks choose to describe:
- What each loved one means to them
- Their wisdom gained during their lifetime
- Their hope for future generations of their family and the world
- Favorite memories, poems, songs, and writings
Some clients have passed love letters along to loved ones during their lifetime:
- If they are ill or
- If a loved one is going through a particularly difficult time, such as being a teenager, dealing with the fact that he or she is adopted, recovering from alcoholism, or going through a divorce
In other words, don’t let your ethical will or love letters be a substitute for lifetime expressions of love and caring. Have it be a continuation of the pattern you’ve established.