There are a plethora of sometimes confusing terms tossed around when you are engaged in the process of estate planning, but the one thing that everyone is familiar with is the will. This is the basic document that is often used as a vehicle of transfer stating the manner in which you would like your assets to be distributed after your death.
In addition to this standard will there is another type of will that is currently recommended called the living will. By executing this document you state your medical preferences so that your family and your health care providers will know what type of procedures you would be willing to accept in the event of your incapacitation, and those that you would deny. The issue of whether or not you would want to be kept alive through the use of artificial means if you were in a terminal condition is usually central to a living will.
There is a third type of will that we would like to highlight here and it is not a legal instrument, but it can be a vital component to your estate plan. It is called the ethical will, and it is a personal document with which you record your moral and spiritual values and any other personal observations and/or confessions. The practice of leaving behind an ethical will dates back thousands of years and actually originated as an oral tradition.
An ethical will can be framed by your faith, and in fact ethical wills are a centuries-old part of the rabbinic tradition that has been embraced by Jewish laypeople as well. But one can use the framework to communicate personal values from any perspective. Drafting such a document can be personally cathartic to the author simultaneous to being instructive to the reader as you sincerely evaluate your ethical foundation at a time when the end of your life may be drawing near.