Here is a sample link to the Your Story page, going specifically to the place on the page where the anchor named EW2 has been placed.

Warm-up Exercises

Ray’s Ethical Will/Legacy Letter

Bettina’s Ethical Will/Legacy Letter

Kim’s Ethical Will/Legacy Letter

Open-Ended Exercise

Exercise 1: I Remember
In this open-ended exercise, spend 10-15 minutes writing about whatever you remember. It is not directive other than having you recall whatever comes to mind. When this exercise is completed, it will help you identify areas for further reflection and writing.

 

Structured Writing Exercises

The next five exercises utilize the second writing technique—the ‘structured writing’ approach. This approach allows you to gain confidence in your writing, collect and organize your ideas, and establish momentum.

Exercise 2: Linking the Generations
Type the name of a deceased relative who you may have been named after, or who you may have heard stories or “legends” about when you were growing up.
Imagine that you could go back in time for several hours and meet that person and talk to them. What questions about them and their lives would you want to ask them about? What information about them would you like to have to carry with you when you return to the present? Type 3-6 questions.
Now imagine it is 75 years into the future. When future generations want to know more about you and your life, these questions that you would pose to your ancestors, are similar to the questions future generations would want to know about you!

 

Exercise 3: What I Learned
Type a few sentences in response to each phrase.
Something I learned from my grandparents…
Something I learned from my parents…
Something I learned from my spouse/children/siblings…
Something I learned from experience…
Something I am grateful for…
My most meaningful holiday/experience/tradition…

 

 

 

Exercise 4: Successes, Life Lessons, Regrets
Write one or two responses to each phrase.
Successes and/or examples of overcoming life challenges I would like to share…
Life lessons I want to pass on…
Regrets I would like to address…

Exercise 5: What I Will Miss
Write about the people, experiences, places and things that you will miss if they were no longer a part of your life, and more importantly, why?

 

 

Exercise 6: The Tribute
You are attending a life celebration. Familiar people are filing in and sitting down. The eulogy/tribute is about to be given. You realize that the eulogy/tribute is about you. What do you hope will be said about you and your life; how do you wish to be remembered?

 

 

Outline Exercises

Exercise 7: Ethical Will/Legacy Letter Outline Topics
This exercise introduces an easy way to engage in the process of creating an Ethical Will/Legacy Letter. It is the most structured of the three approaches, providing you with a helpful framework to quickly and efficiently complete a rough draft of your Ethical Will/Legacy Letter. The exercise consists of a complete outline of common themes frequently found in Ethical Wills/Legacy Letters along with a list of phrases and sentences that originated in previously written Ethical Wills/Legacy Letters.

Ethical Wills/Legacy Letters rarely contain items from every category listed, so concentrate on those topics that have the most meaning to you or add your own as you wish. Here is a preview of the topics detailed within this section. Choose to write about as many as you wish.

• Opening Thoughts
• The Importance of Family and Other Relationships
• Religion/Spirituality
• Respect for Life
• Learning from Mistakes
• Being Honest, Truthful and Sincere
• Giving and Receiving
• Doing Good
• The Importance of Education/Learning/Knowledge
• The Importance of Humor
• Lessons About Life
• Reflections About Life
• Hopes for the Future
• Love
• Forgiveness
• Requests
• Concluding Thoughts

You may find that the workbook phrases don’t completely capture your exact thinking or they may not speak in your voice. This is where you can edit and customize the phrasing to make it your own. Additionally, the phrases will likely be the trigger for more of your personal ideas that you can write in the spaces provided on the following pages.

Opening Thoughts
To my unborn child: I am writing this in eager anticipation of your birth. I know that I have much to learn about being a parent…

Dear Family and Friends: I leave to you these things that I have learned through my life…

Dear children: A few words to express my thoughts and feelings about what is important to me…

To my family: In reading my Ethical Will/Legacy Letter, I hope you find few surprises because…

I want you to know how important you are in my life and how much I love you…

Write down your own opening thoughts.

The Importance of Family and Other Relationships
As I’ve grown older I continue to value the family more and more…

So much of what I am is because of Grandpa, and I dearly miss him every day…

I had a special relationship with my grandmother. From her I learned that one should “do good for the sake of good, not for the sake of reward”…

I hope, especially for my family, to get along in life…

If you find a good, true friend; hold on to him or her as hard as you can…

Share your ideas about family and other relationships.

Religion/Spirituality
I hope you continue the traditions and faith of (fill in your faith community) and pass these on to future generations…

My mission is to serve God by creating a balance between family, friends, profession, and community…

I know I have never offered much in the way of spiritual guidance. However, I hope that my manner of living has served as a living example of my own moral code…

Faith in God is important. I am not all that religious, but I am a believer…

(Fill in your faith community) is your foundation but it is also important to be part of the larger world…

Write down your thoughts about religion and spirituality.

Respect for LifeRespect life – yours and others. Treat other people the way you want to be treated…
 Be positive and look for the good in people…

 What is hateful to you, do not do unto others…

 Cultivate a diverse group of friends and remember to judge a person as an individual, not by their ethnic, religious or racial group…

Share your ideas about respect for life.
Learning from Mistakes
Learn from mistakes. It’s impossible to be successful in everything you try to do…

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Just be sure you learn something from them…

You can learn more from a mistake than from always doing everything right…

Don’t fear mistakes, for mistakes are the springboard of future success…

If you focus on things that are important to you, failures may come, but they will be fewer…

Write down your thoughts about learning from mistakes.

Being Honest, Truthful, and Sincere
Be sincere yet decisive…

Act as if all your actions will be part of a story published in the newspapers…

I have always believed in honesty and advocated truthfulness…

Be sincere and honest and learn to recognize these qualities in others. Call these people your friends.

Share your thoughts about being honest, truthful, and sincere.

Giving and Receiving
In giving you make your life worthwhile…

If you don’t take, you will have nothing to give…

Don’t refuse to accept: others need a chance to give also…

In sharing, one learns, experiences, and reaps the highest level of satisfaction…

Write down your ideas on giving and receiving.

Doing Good
Do good and avoid evil…

Be aware of the evils of the world, but do not be consumed by them…

I hope you will make the world a better place, both on a smaller scale and in the wider sense.

Jot down your thoughts on the value of doing good.

The Importance of Education/Learning/Knowledge
An important value to cherish is that as long as you live you can continue to learn…

It is a privilege and responsibility to share your knowledge and your love of learning with others…

Read as if your life depended on it; it does…

I tried to give you, my children, a good education…

Have a passion for learning. Learn for the sake of learning and not with an eye only to a future career or how much money you can make…

Record your own thoughts about the importance of education, learning, and knowledge.

The Importance of Humor
Having a good sense of humor is very important…

Humor can help you to get through difficult situations…

Humor ought to be a large part of every person’s day…

Share your ideas about the value of humor.

Lessons About Life
Act on situations and opportunities, rather than be acted upon…

Don’t make assumptions of what people need. Ask them…

Have a willingness to be open. You will learn more by listening than by speaking…

Learn to be humble…

Hard work and a broad understanding will bring success…

If these phrases stimulate thoughts about your own life lessons, jot them down.

Reflections About Life
Remember that one person can make a difference…

Stay true to yourself and give your best effort…

Be courageous and persistent and accept differences…

If you gauge your achievements on those of others, you will most likely be disappointed…

Don’t let yourselves be easily discouraged…

Record your own life reflections here.

Hopes for the Future
I hope that you can remember the good memories…

I hope you are as lucky as I was in finding a soul mate like (name) to share your life with…

Pursue your chosen path, study things that interest you, and use your college education to get you started…

Try to be a part of the solution, not part of the problem…

Keep before you for inspiration a vision of the way things ought to be, and help us move, albeit so slightly, in that direction…

Write down additional hopes for the future.

Love
My love for my grandchildren is too great to express in words. I hope I have expressed it in other ways…

Show everyone that you love that you love him or her, and be sure to tell him or her as well…

Be generous with love…

To my precious family, I express my deep, unyielding love, for they were a great part of my life…

No matter how lost or disconsolate you may seem at various points in your life, I hope this helps to bring you back on track: That your parents loved you intensely, unconditionally, and imaginatively…

Jot down your own thoughts about love.

Forgiveness
I apologize for the times I wasn’t the mom you would have liked…

Never be afraid to say, “I’m sorry, please forgive me”…

Forgive whatever misunderstandings there are…

Forgive me if I have hurt you in any way or if I have been too hard on you at times…

Write down additional thoughts on forgiveness.

Requests
Since no one can predict the future, I ask that should it ever be necessary, please see that your mother remains comfortable financially and otherwise…

Enrich your mind, exercise your body, and feed your spirit with music, art, meaningful work, friends and helping the community at large…

Be broad-minded and curious about the world…

Try to find joy and beauty in the simple, ordinary things that life has to offer…

Time is precious, do not waste it or take it for granted…

If you think of additional ideas for your own requests, add them to your draft.

Concluding Thoughts
You all have been a great source of joy and strength for me. I love you all very much…

Finally, I am thankful for all those who have been good to me and have been helpful. I’ve learned to live a good life. I hope a good life for all. Goodbye…

As I close here, I have to chuckle because I realize that even at the end of my life I do not stop giving directions. Humor me, it is who I am…

My love will always be with you – you get to keep it and remember it forever…

I love you all…

Write your concluding thoughts.

 

 

Creating Your Ethical Will / Legacy Letter Draft

Exercise 8: Creating Your First Draft
Now that you have completed all the exercises, review your responses. When you are ready, begin to write a draft of your Ethical Will/Legacy Letter. Don’t worry if it takes more than one try or multiple editing sessions to get the words to express what is in your heart.