You have a traditional Will. Maybe it’s time to think about an Ethical Will.

You have a traditional Will. Maybe it’s time to think about an Ethical Will.

Sarah Cohen pictureYou have a traditional Will. Is it time to think about an Ethical Will?

Before you write your financial will is it beneficial to create your ethical/spiritual will to guide you?

This “life letter” can express your values and perspective on your life, your meaningful relationships and your world and spiritual views.   An ethical/spiritual will, although not legally binding, is an opportunity to “pass on” what is most important to you by reflecting on your beliefs and coming to terms with your relationships, good and bad.  An ethical/spiritual will can be written or recorded, addressed to individuals or to a family or group, and focus on one point in your life or be a reflection on your total life.

For many of us the formulation of an ethical/spiritual will is difficult to do.   I recently spoke with Rabbi Sarah Cohen on this subject.  Rabbi Cohen has written her own spiritual will and offers this advice.

When writing your ethical/spiritual will you will need to get clarity on your life.  What is important in your life?  What relationships have made you happy, successful, brought peace or fulfillment?

These questions may be hard for you to answer and may require you to “get away” from the technology and other disruptions in life to contemplate your answers.

Rabbi Cohen emphasized that you should look at three areas of your life when formulating an ethical/spiritual will.

First, determine the meaningful relationships you have with people.  Who is important to you and why?  Strip away the superficial layers to determine who and what is most significant.  Extend this thinking to pursuits and hobbies, career, travel, what has the most meaning?  

Second, review your accomplishments and describe your regrets.  Your financial legacy, sometimes in the form of a foundation or trust, can thank someone for a kindness or fulfill a perceived obligation. 

Third, examine your spiritual beliefs and/or religious practice and how this affects your understanding of your place in this world. 

Rabbi Cohen shared that families and friends at funeral planning sessions are often introspective and honest in sharing thoughts and feelings about the deceased.  This is the way we can approach our own ethical/spiritual will.  Baring heart and soul to others is difficult yet the formulation of your legal will should be based on an honest examination and reflection of your values and those people and things that meant the most to you.

Writing your ethical/spiritual will can be of great benefit to you as you make financial decisions regarding the allocation of your assets.  As your financial advisor, I can assist in helping you record your ethical/spiritual will.  This can also be done with the support of your spouse or partner or other trusted individual.  Ultimately, your ethical/spiritual will or “life letter” is both an expression of your values and beliefs as well as a tribute to the people and events in your life that provided meaning.  This is your legacy.

To connect with Rabbi Cohen click on her LinkedIn site-


Written by Jaimie Blackman

Jaimie Blackman

Jaimie Blackman president of BH Wealth Management and Financial Life Planner, created Sound Financial Decisions™ powered by MoneyCapsules®, to help guide business owners through the complexities of succession planning.

Jaimie is a featured writer for Music Inc. and Canadian Music Trades magazine. He has spoken at NAMM U Idea Center, and at Yamaha’s Succession Advantage.

As a financial literacy educator he has taught at New York University and has lectured at the 92nd Street Y,
Marymount Manhattan College, and CUNY.

He is a licensed Financial Advisor, and Certified Wealth Strategist® who helps his clients implement investment and insurance solutions which are aligned to their personal values.

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