Q: What is an ethical will?

A: An ethical will is a formal but non-legal document in which the writer shares beliefs and values from past and present experiences and offers their hopes and wisdom for the future to their loved ones and family members. According to Barry K. Baines, MD, author of Ethical Wills: Putting your Values on Paper, the origin of the ethical will dates back to biblical times. Baines says, “Legal wills bequeath valuables, while ethical wills bequeath values.”