Be Here Then

why and how to write & create an ethical will, hospice card, or other legacy

Archive for the category “Samples of Ethical Wills”

Ethical will ideas abound in this book…

This article will point you to a book and an example of its contents — a resource for generating some ideas for your own ethical will or legacy letter.  Not the usual “philosophy lite” material, those of you with an appetite for richer, deeper fare may value it:


An ethical will or a legacy letter by Ted Hughes

From Sylvia Plath’s husband, Ted Hughes, a letter to their son: Whether you consider it an ethical will or a legacy letter, I think you’ll find it moving and in some ways instructive — and from a cool website, too:

Sample legacy letter to two stepchildren

Dear Lila and Laurence:

While I am not one of your biological parents, since I had the pleasure of being one of your step-parents for a number of years and since I still have much interest in you and your lives, I thought I would write you this letter.  I am getting to an age where one Read more…

A few words of caution

For most, writing an ethical will feels like a rewarding act of love for family and friends or a spiritual experience.  There are some, however, for whom such work — if done at all — needs to be supported by a counselor, therapist, or other trusted and skilled help. Read more…

The Rule of No — Part II

Let’s continue working with the example we began in Part I, where we noted what the two versions of a sentence shared in common.  What is the main difference between them, do you think?   Read more…

The Rule of No — Part I

Why do we need such a rule?  We are all mostly kind, understanding people, right?  Well . . . sure, most of the time!

In a nutshell, this Rule of No means “do no harm.”  Another way to think of it is “if in doubt, leave it out.”  Many of us probably understand this, and would never deliberately throw a “verbal hand grenade.”  Many of us would never want to write something that we knew would cause hurt, or damage relationships, or create rifts in the family.  Still, it happens, because we are all human, and we don’t always reflect on how we express things. Read more…

Ethical will, “list” style, by a vet

Another sample ethical will for those of you who want to see more but haven’t made it to the Resources page.  For folks who want a simple, straightforward format to help organize their thoughts this “List” style is very effective — you be the judge.  If this had been your uncle, would you have preferred to read it while he was alive, or after he had passed away?  What difference, if any, would it have made to you?  

To my family and friends and all those I love:

I am not big on words.  But I want to tell you some things, maybe explain a few things.  Maybe this letter can be passed on to my nieces and nephews because I would like them to know who I am.

1.  Values.  I value honesty, friendship, hard work, respect for others, and giving a helping hand to other hardworking honest people. Read more…

What are legacy letters?

What are legacy letters?  And where are they the same and different from ethical wills?  Read on.  In general, think of legacy letters as ethical wills with extras.  A legacy letter ideally would include all the same things you would put in your ethical will, but perhaps in a little different format, and with some elaborations.

Use the immense power of stories to help your readers connect emotionally with your message.   Read more…

An example of an ethical will


Dear Son

I hope to be around to see you grow up but should that prove to be impossible, this letter should serve to let you know the things I think you should know as you grow up and become a man.  Read more…

Lynn McPhelimy’s book In the Checklist of Life

 Lynn McPhelimy, National Aging Expert.  This book/workbook/keepsake is highly recommended, especially to those who could use a bit of assistance in getting all the bits and pieces organized and kept in one simple place.  Short of glitz and fluff but long on usefulness and especially thoughtfulness, this one is worth every penny of the purchase price.

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