Sample Legacies

20's-30's  |  40's  |  50's  |  60's  |  70's-90's  | 

All legacies courtesy of Legacy Center founder Barry Baines.
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1. Bettina Brickell was 29 years old when she died. This letter to her family and friends was read at her Memorial service.

  • As I contemplated this memorial service, I felt great gratitude in my heart that each of you would be here to say good-bye to me. Many of you have shared your warmth, kindness and love with me during these last months. I want to say thank you and good-bye and share with you the lessons I've learned… (Read More)

2. This ethical will was written by a 38-year-old to her as yet unborn child during her pregnancy. She intends to update it at future life cycle events.

  • 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. I'm sure the challenges will be greater than even now I can imagine, and the rewards are probably bigger than I can fathom at this point. Please know that you are a cherished being whom your father and I have waited half a lifetime to meet. We're so excited about your birth… (Read More)

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Authors in their 40's

1. I wrote my ethical will when I was 47, as I began my journey learning and appreciating the value of this deeply meaningful tradition.

  • To my family:

    In reading my ethical will, I hope that you find very few surprises. I believe I've been open about the things that I've valued over time. I've also tried to live my values on a day-to-day basis. I trust that I succeeded… (Read More)

2. Mother of two children.

  • I won't take up much of your time. I know I wasn't around much while you were growing up, so why should I preach… (Read More)

3. Married father. This is a personal mission statement serving as an ethical will.

  • My mission is to serve God by creating a balance between family, friends, profession, and… (Read More)

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Authors in their 50's

1. Kim's ethical will illustrates the appeal of a written legacy for someone without children. She shared hers with friends and other family members.


    Since I've never married or had children, I don't have a conventional family system, but I have definitely created my family of choice. I feel incredibly lucky to include in that my immediate blood family but I also add into that number the amazing group of people whom I… (Read More)

2. Mike had two children; a daughter who is alive, and a son who died suddenly at age 29.

  • I missed my calling. Perhaps others "shoulda been a contenda". I "shoulda been a teacha". There are several things I "shoulda" taught. One of them is what I call "life lessons"; not because my kids (or any one else's) need them but because I have gotten virtually every one of them wrong, and I desperately want to insure that others (my kids in particular) avoid the hurt… (Read More)

3. This will was written in the earlier part of the 20th Century. It has a very interesting history.

  • I, Charles Lounsberry, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do hereby make and publish this my Last Will and Testament, in order, as justly as may be, to distribute my interests in the world among… (Read More)

4. Katie was in her 50's when she succumbed to cancer. Her vibrancy as a dancer and her outlook on living and dying are well illustrated in this ethical will to her spouse and three children.

  • Dear Manny and all my children:

    I am writing this letter, my ethical will, to share with you some things I find most important in life and to share some thoughts, dreams and hopes that I have for you. I hope that you will feel my support and my love for you in this letter and… (Read More)

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Authors in their 60's

1. This is an ethical will written by a widowed grandmother in her early sixties.

  • To My Children and Grandchildren:

    My Family

    I had a special relationship with my grandmother. She lived next door to us and taught modesty, moderation and strength by personal example. From her I learned that one should "do good for the sake of good, not for the sake of reward" and that "there is no end of good that can be done by… (Read More)

2. A father and farmer nearing retirement with 3 adult children.

  • Dear Anna, Peter and Eddie,

    Although I have recently been diagnosed as a man in "tip-top condition" by Dr. Lewis, I am nonetheless reminded that time is still passing, and in a couple of years I will have to retire from commercial farming. Don't worry; I'm leaving farming with little in the way of regrets… (Read More)

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Authors in their 70's-90's

1. World War II veteran

  • I leave my children the wish that they have:

    A sense of… (Read More)

2. Mr. H's son wrote this ethical will posthumously

  • I have a friend who has written a book and speaks on the topic of ethical wills. The practice started as early as Jacob gathering his children around his death bed, and Moses' farewell to the Children of Israel. While the legal will bequeaths valuables, the ethical will… (Read More)

3. Uncle Melchior, age 90, had this to say in his "Last Will and Testament."

  • To My Children


    Money is a curse and the source of most evil. Therefore I do not want to be guilty of leaving too much of this evil. Instead, I want to leave you… (Read More)

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