Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper
Barry K. Baines, M.D.
Perseus Publishing; Second Edition, 2006

A step-by-step guide to writing the two documents that will make clear your cherished wishes.

As evidenced in the Terri Schiavo case that made national headlines, having a living will is an essential element in ensuring that the way in which you would like to spend your last days will be respected. It informs both family and doctors of your medical treatment preferences in specific situations. An ethical will is a complementary text that communicates personal values, beliefs, blessings, and advice to relatives and to future generations. It can be more meaningful to friends and family than any material possession you could bequeath to them. Together, living and ethical wills ensure that your wishes and hopes are "on the record," not to be lost, ignored, or forgotten.

Offering practical and inspirational advice for people at any stage of life, Ethical and Living Wills includes:

  • Three recommended writing approaches to capturing our feelings for posterity
  • Expert information for understanding the legal and practical issues involved in documenting your medical care and treatment preferences in commonly occurring situations
  • Advice on when to distribute both ethical and living wills
  • Tips to protect the legacy you leave in an ethical will-preparing and caring for the document you create

About the Author

Barry K. Baines, M.D., is Medical Director of Ucare, Minnesota, and Associate Medical Director of Hospice of the Twin Cities. He is the co-founder and CEO of The Legacy Center, an organization dedicated to preserving stories, values, and meaning for individuals, communities, and organizations. Dr. Baines lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota


Whether we are rich or poor, the most valueable gifts we can give to our children, grandchildren, and those yet to come are the treasures of our memories, our stories, our values, insights, and special wisdom. Consider this book the wrapping of that gift.
    -Ira Byock, M.D. Founder, The Missoula Demonstration Project, and author of Dying Well .

Everyone wants to feel that they will leave something of real value from their lives to future generations. Ethical Wills shows us in simple steps how to documenat and pass on our wisdom, experiences, life lessons, and much more to those we love."
    -James V. Gambone, Ph.D. author of ReFirement: A Boomer's Guide to Life After 50.

"Thinking through what is really important to each of us is a way to become more fully alive and vibrant, even whild facing the fact that life does change, and eventually ends. This little manual reminds us of the obligations to be thoughtful and reflective, as well as the potential to live on in the minds and hearts of our families and friends."
    -Joanne Lynn, M.D., Director, RAND Center to Improve Care of the Dying.

"With this wisdom, all of us, from grade-schoolers to grandparents, can be guided to greater self-examination and deeper spiritual meaning."
    -Rabbi Barry D. Cytron, Ph.D.