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Examples of Ethical Wills

(Also known as Legacy Letters, Legacy Statements, Life Letters, Heart Wills, Ending Notes, Love Wills, Testaments)

Posted below are links to useful examples of ethical wills and interesting articles about them, as well as a sample letter of intent and similarly useful materials.

Against Discouragement by Howard Zinn
((May 2005 commencement address at Spelman College, where he had been chair of the history department, from which he was fired in 1963 for his civil rights activities)

Aha Moments by Estelle Parsons
My entire life has been about trying to be a good girl. When my mother died, I found a journal she'd written when I was a child...

Before I Die: The personal life deeply lived.
Installation artist Candy Chang turned the side of an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood into a giant chalkboard where passersby could write up their personal aspirations. Her work is full of messages.

Cal Ripken's Induction Speech
(printed in the Washington Post 7-30-07, when he was inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame)

Commencement address delivered at Stanford Universityby Steve Jobs
CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios 6-12-05. "You've got to find what you love."

Contemporary and historic examples of ethical wills (Susan Turnbull, Personal Legacy Advisors)

Ethical will of a grandfather
Courtesy of Mike Moldeven

Ethical wills make for lasting gifts of life lessons by Diane Suchetka
An article about Ethical Wills growing in popularity publised Friday, December 10, 2010 on the Cleveland.com website.

Ethical Wills - Putting Your Values on Paper by Barry Baines, MD
Many examples posted on Barry Baine's website.

Examples of Jewish ethical wills
A PBS story, with quotes from the Riemer and Stampfer book, So That Your Values Live On.

Fountain Hughes, 101 (World Digital Library).
Listen as he recalls his boyhood as a slave, the Civil War, and life in the United States as an African American from the 1860s to the 1940s, offering advice along the way.

Jewish Ethical Wills (Fordham University)
(from 12th to 14th centuries)

Kristie Miller's Letter of Intent
Let your family and friends know what you want done if you are ill, incapacitated, or facing the end of life. Kristie Miller did just that...

Leaving a Legacy - Hospice of the Western Reserve
Snippets of videos about leaving a legacy (You Tube)

Legacy Letter Project.
A professor invited the world to write letters of wisdom to his college students and this delightful site is the result--with letters from all over.

Lost Generation. Short AARP video on YouTube. Watch it ALL the way through!

Michael Killian's message of hope for a newborn
At a memorial service at the National Press Club for journalist Michael Kilian, his adult son Colin read an article that his father had written for the Chicago Tribune, when Colin was born.

header image Permission to use photo granted by the
New Orleans Civic Center, Artist Candy Chang

Love letters from the grave -- not just for soldiers or the deceased
Messages from soldiers in action to their families (Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune, 3-30-07)

Mutual of Omaha's brilliant campaign about 'Aha Moments'
A moment of clarity, the aha moment is a defining moment where you gain real wisdom - wisdom you can use to change your life.

My Legacy by Josh Bonventre
What I want to leave behind. I want my children to know...

Open Letter to Barack Obama from Alice Walker
On expectations, responsibilities and a new reality that is almost more than the heart can bear (The Root 11-5-08)

Payton Papers: An Ethical Will About Philanthropy.
"Your philanthropic autobiography: where did your values come from? Your ethical will: what values do you most want to pass on?"

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture.
The dying 47-year-old professor's exuberant last lecture, Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams (1 hour, 44 minutes), is worth watching. Or you can read The Last Lecture, written with co-author Jeffrey Zaslow (4.5 stars on Amazon)

Sample Legacy Letters
Life Legacies, site of Rachael Freed, founder of Women's Legacies

The Service of Love
Alli Joseph's 'This I Believe" essay about recording personal history, 10-22-09

Telling Their Stories.
Read, watch, or listen to survivors of Holocaust, WWII concentration camps, and Japanese-American internment camps (Oral History Archives Project, San Francisco)

This I Believe (NPR).
Americans from all walks of life share the personal philosophies and core values that guide their daily lives (based on a 1950s radio program). Listen, read, or both--to NPR's extensive archive of 500-word essays.

This I Believe (Canada)
CBC's extensive archive of 500-word essays

Video tribute samples on the APH YouTube Channel.
Do one for your family!

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