How to Write a Legacy Letter

A legacy letter, also known as an ethical will, is a personal document that someone writes to share their values, life lessons, hopes and dreams with their family, friends or future generations. 

Unlike a last will and testament, which distributes one’s material assets, a legacy letter is a heartfelt expression of what truly matters to the person writing it. The letter can include reflections on experiences that shaped the writer’s life, wisdom gained through successes and challenges, expressions of love and gratitude, hopes for the family’s future and guidance or advice for those the writer leaves behind.

Legacy letters are often shared with loved ones during a significant life event, such as a milestone birthday, the birth of a child or upon receiving a serious diagnosis. However, they can also be written and shared anytime someone wishes to pass on their legacy of values and experiences. It’s a deeply personal way to leave a lasting imprint on the hearts and minds of those the writer cares about, ensuring that their moral and spiritual legacy endures.

Here are some prompts to help you get started with writing your own legacy letter:

  1. Values and Beliefs: What are the core values and beliefs that have guided your life? How did you come to hold these values?
  2. Life Lessons: Share a significant life lesson you learned the hard way. How has this lesson influenced your decisions or path in life?
  3. Love and Relationships: Reflect on the relationships that have meant the most to you. What have those relationships taught you about love, friendship and connection?
  4. Hopes for the Future: What hopes or dreams do you have for your loved ones and for future generations? How do you wish for them to carry forward your legacy?
  5. Personal Achievements: What are you most proud of? This could be personal achievements, challenges overcome or contributions to your community.
  6. Gratitude: Express gratitude for the experiences and people that have enriched your life. How has gratitude shaped your perspective on philanthropy?
  7. Advice: Based on your life experiences, share advice or wisdom for those you care about. This could be practical, philosophical or both.
  8. Memorable Stories: Share a personal story or anecdote that reflects your character or life journey.
  9. Concluding Message: End your legacy letter with a personal message of love, hope and farewell. Consider sharing any final thoughts or wishes you want to leave for your loved ones.