We all know what a will is— a legal document distributing your possessions after you die. But have you heard of an ethical will? This is a non-binding document that imparts your values and the life lessons you have learned. Ethical wills are actually an ancient Jewish practice that have come back into fashion.
Because ethical wills are not legally binding, there are no rules, only things to consider. It is usually in the form of a letter to family members. The ethical will outlines what you value, personal experiences that have shaped your life, and what values you would like your children or family members to keep after your death. While this can be a very intense process to figure out what you want to say, it does not need to be a long document. You can write this at any stage of your life, edit it and present it while you are living or after your death.
How did you try to achieve Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) through your philanthropy and volunteerism? You may want to include what causes you have supported that you would like your children or grandchildren to continue to support.
There are many resources on the internet and books to help guide you in writing your ethical will. The most important thing is to start.
If you would like to make sure your favorite organization continues to receive support after your death, then you should consider making a planned gift. This can come in the form of a legal will, endowment, or even a life insurance policy with the recipient organization as the beneficiary. If supporting the Jewish community is important to you, contact Julie Katz, Campus Campaign and Endowment Director, to find out how you can impact the Jewish community beyond your lifetime. Call 330-835-0005 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.