We’ve seen the scene in movies countless times. Bereaved relatives gather in a lawyer’s office. An attorney picks up a sheet of paper and begins to read, “I (insert name here) being of sound mind, do hereby bequeath my estate to…” And so on and so forth. A last will and testament, the document that details how a person disposes of his or her physical property after death, is a pretty common concept. But there’s another kind of will gaining popularity, one that focuses on spiritual and moral values as opposed to physical assets. And this will is often passed along before the will’s writer passes on.
It’s called an ethical will. Ethical wills have actually been around for three thousand years, but they’ve gained newfound popularity since 9/11. They can take the form of personal letters written to a child, grandchild, niece or nephew, an audio recording or a video. Ethical wills can incorporate anything a person believes is meaningful enough to pass on. The Web site www.ethicalwill.com lists some common themes:
- Important personal values and beliefs
- Important spiritual values
- Hopes and blessings for future generations
- Life’s lessons
- Expressions of love
- Forgiving others and asking for forgiveness
Why create an ethical will? According to
www.ethicalwill.com some of the reasons are:
- We all want to be remembered, and we all will leave something behind
- If we don’t tell our stories, no one else will and they will be lost forever
- It helps you identify what you value most and what you stand for
- By articulating what we value now, we can take steps to insure the continuation of those values for future generations
- You learn a lot about yourself in the process of writing an ethical will
- It helps us come to terms with our mortality by creating something of meaning that will live on after we are gone
- It provides a sense of completion in our lives
Video can be a powerful medium for passing along your values to a loved one. The conviction in your words and the passion in your eyes will leave a profound impression on the person for whom you create your video ethical will, as well as the generations that follow. You don’t have to do anything fancy from a video standpoint. To ensure a good quality video, just employ some of the basic organization, lighting and sound techniques described in the Family Legacy Video™ Producer’s Guide.
An ethical will can be a wonderful gift and a long lasting legacy, made all the more powerful by the use of video.