“We will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and His mighty wonders.”
Use the links below to multiply the blessing of your Will to you, your family, and the ministries you love.
An Ethical Will
An Ethical Will is Not Transactional — It’s Meaningful
An ethical Will (or Legacy Love Letter) is a personal document you create to communicate your values, experiences, life lessons and family heritage to your family. Unlike a legal Will which focuses on passing along your physical assets, property and items of monetary value, an ethical one serves to share guiding principles, memories, spiritual values, stories of personal faith, family objects with personal (but not necessarily monetary) value and future wishes for your family.
Writing a Legacy Love Letter
Because a Legacy Love Letter is not a legal document, and is not made for the purpose of distributing assets, the content and form of your letter is up to you. Here are four themes you may wish to cover in your Legacy Love Letter:
Beliefs and Values. What do you believe about God? What are your guiding principles when it comes to marriage, raising children, church and ministry, handling money, etc.?
Life Lessons. What were some of the defining moments of your life, and what did you learn from them? What experiences and people are you most grateful for? Think of significant events, moments and experiences in your life. What would you like them to know about your hopes for their futures?
Personal feelings. How can you communicate love to them? In other words, how have they impacted your life in a positive way? Is there anyone you owe an apology or confession you’ve never been able to communicate? An ethical Will can be a powerful place to share these feelings.
Message of Hope. What are some of the most meaningful passages of Scripture to you? What message of hope and encouragement do you wish to leave to your family and friends?
Sample Legacy Love Letter
A passage from Psalm 16 resonates with us. It says, “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance.” That verse prompted some heart-stirring conversations that we’d like to share with you.
We are so thankful for the “good inheritance” we have received from God. As we grow older, we want each of you to know how much we love you, and deeply appreciate the many ways you have enriched our lives. We’re especially pleased at many evidences of the Lord’s blessings in your lives. And we want you to know that the greatest pleasure you could give us is to pass on to your children, as we have tried to do with you, that same commitment to live all of your life as service to God.
We see our Will as an ongoing testimony of our love for the Lord and for you, and that is reflected in the way we have divided our estate among you and the ministries we love. We hope that when the time comes, someone would read Psalm 16, as an encouragement for our family to continue serving the Lord with gladness for generations to come.
We love you,
Mom and Dad
Setting Up Your Legacy File
Make it easy for your loved ones to locate the documents they’ll need when the time comes
Contents List. A list of the contents in your Legacy File
Duplicate Copy. If you create a duplicate copy of your Legacy File for your executor and for a safe deposit box, you should provide contact and location information.
Finances. Provide a list of bank accounts, CDs, mutual funds, and other investments with institution names, account names, and account numbers.
Funeral Instructions. Provide details about your wishes for the funeral service, funeral home, burial arrangements.
Important Documents. Create a “catch all” file for all other important documents your family may need such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, titles, etc.
Insurance. Create a single file with all insurance information – including auto, home, life, health, disability, etc. List the company name, policy numbers, and contact information.
Monthly Budget. Include a copy of your monthly budget to help your family keep track of bills and run your household once you are gone.
Passwords. If you’re like most people, you have probably have a large and growing list of passwords, usernames, and PIN numbers for your bank accounts, web sites, voicemail, and more. Make a list of these important access codes in a single file.
Spiritual Will. Sometimes called an ethical will is a “love letter” from you expressing your spiritual values, your love for family, your life lessons and beliefs.
Tax Returns. It is recommended that you keep up to 7 years of tax returns on file in the event that you are audited by the IRS. This precaution will spare your family from a lot of unnecessary hassle if you are no longer around.
Will. A signed copy of your Will, including information about guardianship, beneficiaries, executor, power of attorney, financial accounts, and charitable interests.
Source: Selected concepts based on the Legacy Drawer at www.daveramsey.com
Notice of Bequest Letter
If you have included us in your Will, we’d like to thank you appropriately and be sure we understand and honor your gift intentions. You can help us do that by sending us a “Notice of Bequest” letter. Here is a sample:
In recognition of my strong belief and confidence in its mission, I have made a gift by Will to Buffalo City Mission.
If I make any change to this provision or if the value of the bequest or gift changes substantially, I will notify Buffalo City Mission of such change.
I understand that all information listed below will be kept in confidence unless I authorize its release.