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Have You Written an Emotional Will?

By Cindy Boatman July 19, 2022 Lifestyle

Part of the aging process includes handling practical matters such as ensuring one’s affairs are in order. If you’ve not already done so, in the future you’ll most likely prepare a “Will” directing distribution of your assets and personal effects. But have you given any thought to crafting an emotional will?

What is the purpose of an emotional will? It’s a way to document and pass on the significant thoughts, moments, events, and values that have impacted and shaped your life. It’s an opportunity to leave behind your best advice for living a happy and successful life. It may also include a few “what not to dos.”

Since an emotional will is not a legal document, it can be whatever you want it to be. It could be in written form or even in video format. The resulting document (or other means used to document your emotional legacy) will be a product of your personality, creativity and style. Assuming you’ve managed to reach your 50s or beyond, you should have a wealth of knowledge and experiences to draw from.

Why Bother Creating an Emotional Will?

Here are four very good reasons:

#1: To Pass Along Your Life Know-How

To preserve and pass down your gems of wisdom. In some cultures and instances, elders are a part of “multigenerational” households, so values and other emotional mindsets are organically passed along to each generation. However, this is not the trend for most of us, and younger generations may have little or no contact with their elders.

#2: To Gain Perspective on Life

Creating an emotional will can provide benefits for you as well as your recipients. It’s a great way to reflect on your life and gain perspective. An emotional will can reveal your unfulfilled desires, hopes and dreams, prompting you to correct course as needed to accomplish and experience your best life going forward.

#3: To Preserve Your Unique Lifetime

No one else shares the knowledge, values and experiences you’ve accumulated over your lifetime. You are the only one that can author your unique perspectives on life.

#4: To Provide Advice to Others

You have an opportunity to provide what you believe to be timeless advice to younger generations, which may help them navigate ever-changing social, political, cultural, religious, and social beliefs and trends.

How Do I Get Started?

In exploring this subject, I found an excellent guide to assist you in creating your emotional will. It is in the form a downloadable PDF that can be found at EMOTIONAL WILL. The following are some paraphrased suggestions from the referenced guide as well as some original ones:

  • Determine the people you’d like to leave a message for. Your children, grandchildren, friends?
  • Your emotional legacy is more about crafting “evergreen content” to leave your loved ones, however you could create different content for different people if desired.
  • Consider your most memorable childhood experiences. What did you learn from them?
  • Who were the teachers or mentors that significantly impacted your life? How so?
  • What is your biggest regret? How would you have handled it if you were granted a do-over?
  • What are the greatest sources of joy in your life?
  • What is (are) your most memorable act(s) of courage? How did exercising that courage change your life going forward?
  • What is your definition of love and how has the love you’ve experienced shaped your life?
  • What is (are) your superpower(s)? How did you discover it (them)?
  • What are your most treasured travel destinations or places? Why?
  • What are your favorite tools or means to manage stress in your life?
  • Share one or more famous quote(s) that are meaningful to you.
  • What is the most impactful act of kindness you received from another person?
  • How have you given back to your community or served others in some way?
  • What spiritual advice or scripture(s) has been most meaningful in your life?

Once you’ve created your emotional will, be sure to store it in a safe, accessible place. You might print copies to be stored with your legal will or save a digital version on the cloud or some other online source for safe-keeping. Make sure the person handling your estate can access and distribute it upon your death. You may consider sharing your emotional will with its recipient(s) while you are still living.

Sure, folks generally like to inherit money, property and other assets. But an emotional will has “intrinsic value” and is priceless in nature. It is something to be cherished by your loved ones and future generations long after you’re gone.

Please join in the conversation. Do you think drafting an emotional will is a good idea? If so, what are 3 timeless pieces of advice you’d leave behind?

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Cindy Boatman

Jeanne, so glad this was helpful! Thank you for commenting and wishing you all the best!

Cindy Boatman

Judith, you’re welcome, and I wish you the best in writing your journal!

Judith Marcus

Thank you for these ideas and the Emotional Will link. I’ve been wanting to write a journal and can’t find a way to begin. I mentioned an story about my mother to my son who encouraged me to write down some of these memories. There are so many questions I wish I had asked my mother and other relatives when I was an adult. I was too young when my father and grandparents died to ask them.


Thank you Cindy! This is exactly what I was looking for to be included with my will! Plus the other benefits of looking back on my life. I have saved your pdf and printed it out. Thank you again! Wonderful article!

The Author

Cindy Boatman is excited to share her research and personal insights, hoping to help others live their best lives as they age. She is retired, pursing her dream to write, enjoying nature, travel, and her grandkids. She completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training certification program in 2020.

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