Creating an Ethical Will is a terrific way to understand ourselves and to share what we find. Often people will say, “My children/spouse know my values,” but it is so important to really help our loved ones understand what really matters to us. During the process of preparing the Ethical Will (EW), we step into the challenge of articulating our values and clarifying what we want to communicate. We say “challenge” because this is often more difficult than it appears. Clarifying our values can be a powerful and cathartic process because it means that we are taking a deep look at our lives, decisions that we’ve made, our successes and our failures.

At the Narratives Studio, we work with people looking to facilitate their personal narratives and legacies. Among the skills we bring to this process are those of interviewing, deep listening, and reflecting.

One of the key things to keep in mind when creating an EW is knowing who the recipient(s) will be; a fantastic way to tailor your message. Will you relate some family history you fear may be lost? Perhaps impart a message of love and forgiveness? Clarify a value that you hold dear? For example, JH directed her Ethical Will to her children, naming each of them. She recalled deeply joyous times when they were all together. She continued by mentioning specific instances that formed her lifelong faith as well as some of her accomplishments that were particularly meaningful. AR, reflected on his deeply held values. He described the personal impact of the political and artistic environment of the 60s and 70s. In reflecting on those times, AR understood how much they had informed the larger decisions he had made in his life and how those values continued to guide him. He expressed great appreciation for the relationships that he has had in his life, remarking that those relationships are a primary value for him. In expressing his appreciation, he was extending his “audience.”

One of our favorite examples is a powerful piece by the humorist, Sam Levenson addressing his grandchildren. He begins, “I leave you my unpaid debts. They are my greatest assets. Everything I own-I owe: To America I owe a debt for the opportunity it gave me to be free and to be me.” He continues to express his gratitude for all the gifts of his life in terms of what he owes. This approach is surprising and inspiring and a great illustration of the latitude that creating an Ethical Will can offer. 

When you participate in the workshop, “Preserving Your Legacy: How to Create Your Own Ethical Will,” we will jump start the process, keep the energy moving, and help you discover your path of self-discovery. Writing workshop time will facilitate getting thoughts and ideas on paper. With the accompanying workbook to maintain the flow, you will be well on your way to creating your Ethical Will by evening’s end. 

This class is not currently offered, but we hope you find this information helpful. Visit to see the current offerings.