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Legacy letters or ethical wills are mentioned in both Christian and Hebrew bibles as a way of passing values, beliefs, blessings and moral philosophies from one generation to the next.

 

Significant transition points which may inspire the creation of a legacy letter are:

  • Single adult who reaches middle age without plans for marriage or to have children. This can be a great time to articulate your values to friends, extended family and express your charitable intentions for the community.
  • Betrothed couples who want to clarify their personal values and principles with one another
  • The birth of a child is an excellent time to express your intentions in raising this special little one and passing along your love and beliefs.
  • Growing families and changing roles of children can inspire new reasons to compile and bestow values and closely-held memories.
  • During a separation or divorce when parents would like to enforce their intentions and reassure their children.
  • Middle age, retirement or significant aging milestones are a time to look back and forward and express both your wisdom gained and hopes for the future.
  • When life is coming to an end and you’d like to leave a legacy.
  • Challenging life events, like: the death of a loved one, surgery, a serious illness, divorce, job loss, moving to another city, the marriage or birth of a child or grandchild.

In the words of Barry K. Baines, M.D., Author of Ethical Wills, Putting Your Values On Paper:

“When my father was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1990, I asked him to write a letter about the things he valued. About a month before he died, my dad gave me two handwritten pages in which he spoke about the importance of being honest, getting a good education, helping people in need, and remaining loyal to the family. That letter — his ethical will — meant more to me than any material possession he could have bequeathed.”

It may be time to consider taking a few moments to write down how you feel. Just a page or two can make all the difference in the world.

 

For more articles on legacy planning, click here to subscribe to Legacy Arts Magazine.

by Laura A. Roser
CEO and Founder of Paragon Road
#1 Expert in Meaning Legacy Planning