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Q: Writing a great will, how ??? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   8 Comments )
Subject: Writing a great will, how ???
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: uzzz-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 05 Nov 2005 14:10 PST
Expires: 05 Dec 2005 14:10 PST
Question ID: 589520

I am interested in finding informative books on how to write a
creative will. There are countless unimaginative publications on how to write a
will, most specific to a geographical area. My desire is to find a
compendium (preferably more than one) that feature writings of wills
that are beyond the norm.

Thank you

Subject: Re: Writing a great will, how ???
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 23 Nov 2005 17:30 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

At its core, a will is about passing along a legacy to those who
remain after your departure from this life.

Certainly, in such a fundamental communication, there should be room
for creative expression of the things that are of fundamental
importance to the writer of the will.  Things not just of material
value, but other things of value to the will-writer as a human being.

Just as certainly, the will is also a legal document, and as one
commenter noted, has to be written with care and precision.

There are numerous books that focus on both the legal aspects and
broader human aspects of preparing a will.  I have listed these below.

I trust the information here fully answers your question.  

However, please don't rate this answer until you have everything you
need.  If you would like any additional information, just post a
Request for Clarification to let me know how I can assist you further,
and I'm at your service.

All the best,



A concept known as the "ethical will" envisions passing along personal
values as well as material possessions.  Some of the key documents in
this movement are:
Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper 
Barry K. Baines

...Defining an ethical will as "a vehicle for clarifying and
communicating the meaning in our lives to our families and
communities," Baines draws on an ancient practice that he has put to
use in hospice work with more than 3,000 people as they prepared for
death. A benefit to the dying, their loved ones and people not facing
an imminent death but wanting to clarify and communicate their
experience, ethical wills can be letters, lists, confessions, requests
and a host of other kinds of communication. Baines discusses their
history, their significance and how to make them, with numerous

Other books by Baines include:
The Ethical Will Writing Guide Workbook
The Ethical Will Resource Kit 

Other books central to this theme:
Women's Lives, Women's Legacies: Passing Your Beliefs and Blessings to
Future Generations: Creating Your Own Spiritual-Ethical Will
Rachael Freed
An Ethical Will: Grandpa Teaches Values 
Ron Lever 

...A love letter filled with good humor and good advice. A model for
anyone to prepare their own Ethical Will.
Hebrew Ethical Wills 
Israel Abrahams


An important part of writing a will is the legal aspects, and there is
no shortage of how-to books.  But the best of best inform you about
the process, and leave room for style, communication and creativity,
both from the authors of the books, as well as for the author of the
will.  Among these are:
ABA Guide to Wills and Estates 
The American Bar Association

...Written by a group of America's top lawyers, this book deals with
those two certainties of life--death and taxes--providing expert,
rock-solid legal counsel at a fraction of what it would cost to go to
a lawyer.
How to Plan Your Total Estate With a Will & Living Will, Without the
Lawyer's Fees: The American Will Kit
Benji O. Anosike 

...Written for those who want to draft their own wills, Anosike's
volume is in workbook style with text, forms, and worksheets that
provide an outline of things to consider and procedures for
constructing the instruments necessary for an estate plan. The author
also provides forms for constructing a living will for each state as
well as the legal requirements for a valid will in every jurisdiction.
There are useful details in this book, including a sample letter of
instructions to an executor.

...also by Anosike:
How to Draw Up Your Own Will Without a Lawyer: Why You Can't Afford to
Live or Die Without One
Your Will & Estate Plan: How to Protect Your Estate and Your Loved Ones 
Harvey J. Platt

...Platt has designed his book to prepare the reader to become better
informed to participate in the planning process with estate
professionals. He is clearly an advocate of the living trust, the
popular device that allows individuals to place their assets in trust
while they are still alive. The trustor retains control of the assets
during his or her lifetime, with heirs avoiding expensive and
time-consuming probate procedures after the trustor's death. Platt's
treatment of the topic is expansive and timely. He devotes entire
chapters to the unique problems of people with AIDS and for those with
children with special needs.

And if you really want to do some heavy-lifting, there's a
comprehensive but more-accessible-than-most legal textbook:
Wills, Trusts, and Estates (Casebook) 
Jesse Dukeminier

...The new Seventh Edition retains the late Jesse Dukeminier?s unique
blend of wit, erudition, insight, and playfulness and covers all the
key topics in a logical, clear organization. Included are interesting
cases that are not only fun to read, but fun for professors to teach
as well. Cases are enhanced and connected to broader legal principles
by well-written notes, questions, and problems and cartoons,
illustrations, and photographs provide humorous interruptions and
visual commentary at appropriate places within the text.
The Procrastinator's Guide to Wills and Estate Planning 
Eric Matlin Eric Matlin cuts through the legalese of most estate
planning guides with a step-by-step breakdown of the process that can
put everyone's mind at ease.
We The People's Guide to Estate Planning : A Do-It-Yourself Plan for
Creating a Will and Living Trust
Ira Distenfield

...We The People's Guide to Estate Planning makes planning for your
future as painless as possible?all without the added hassle of hiring
a lawyer. This practical, nuts-and-bolts guide covers all the basics
of do-it-yourself estate planning, and covers everything you need to
know about living trusts, wills, probate, and estate taxes. Extra
resources?a glossary of estate planning terminology; a section on
frequently asked questions; samples of effective living trusts and a
last will and testament; as well as worksheets and essential
information on how to settle an estate?make this the best resource
available for this important step in planning for the future. You'll
have all the information you need to understand the legal language of
a will or living trust and learn how to seek state-specific laws and
customs so you can tailor your plans accordingly...In addition, you
can download sample documents from which you can create your own.


Some very personal reflections of wills and the process of creating them:
What Won't Be in My Will: A Personal Journal to Guide Loved Ones 
Susan Fielder Mears 

...While death is a topic most people avoid, "What Won't Be in My
Will" is a journal style workbook documenting one's life and last
wishes in a leave behind legacy for loved ones. Presented in an easy
to read and fill out format, this guidebook allows the user to
consider and organize the countless decisions and issues everyone must
ultimately face.

This last one is a pretty idiosyncratic and personal reflection on
wills, but may be of interest:
My Will: A Legacy To The Healthy And The Sick 
Sebastian Kneipp 

...It is a common practice for everyone who has acquired something or
effected anything in his life time, to take steps for securing its
continuance in the future, and to make sure that it will fall into the
hands of those who will value it and make good use of it, and it is to
ensure this that a Man makes his Will.


Lastly, I can't resist mention of this site out of the UK:*&queryType=1
Famous Wills

which makes available the actual wills of a number of famous folks,
including William Shakespeare, Henry VIII, and Jane Austen.

Again, I hope this listing hits the nail on the head in terms of what
you're looking for.  But if there's anything else I can do for you,
just say the word, and I'm at your service.

All the best,


search strategy -- Used existing bookmarked sites, and searched Amazon
and Google for:

wills ethical

wills personal

wills legacy

writing a will

wills estate

Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 23 Nov 2005 17:33 PST
I forgot this one:
The psychiatry of writing a will

which, at the least, sounded intriguing, though I really don't have
any information on it one way or the other.


Request for Answer Clarification by uzzz-ga on 24 Nov 2005 12:35 PST
Hello Paf

I thank you for tackling this question. I was beginning to wonder if
anyone would. My own searches on the web did not yield satisfactory
results so that is why I turned to the trusty GA team.

After having scoured the numerous links that you have provided I find
none that seem to go beyond the norm. There appear to be many fine
books available however none appear to have been ambitious enough to
venture outside the box of convention. My goal was to find a book that
would give the reader guidance and ideas towards writing a *creative*
will. You did well to search Amazon and I wonder if there are other
new and/ or used book sellers that may uncover a writing with a more
imaginative approach. I too subscribe to the importance of the will as
an important legal document however I am looking for some imaginative



Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 24 Nov 2005 13:32 PST

I'll be happy to continue looking into this for you.

But to tell the truth, it would help a lot to have a bit more detail
from you.  What was it about the items I included in my original
answer that fell short?  What sort of additional works do you have in

The better I can understand what you're after, the better I can target
my follow-up research.

So...stay tuned, and if you think of anything you can add here, please do.


Request for Answer Clarification by uzzz-ga on 25 Nov 2005 07:26 PST
Good Morning Paf

This is a dry and serious subject that could use an injection of some
imagination. Regretably after searching through the list that you have
provided none seem to venture outside the box of convention.

I have spoken to lawyers and they knew of no books that could help me.
They did agree that it would be of assistance to their clients to have
something that would asist them in getting their thoughts together
before they sat down to prepare the formal papers. Most clients find
it hard enough just to address the subject let alone be imaginative.

My challenge has been to find books on will writing that have gone
beyond the standard process on composing your last wishes testament.
Today few estate disposition documents are written that have exceeded
addressing looking after family, debts etc. Charities, institutions of
higher learning, churches and others encourage bequests to support
their organizations. Many of us have lives that have a broad range of
interests beyond family & work.

I am seeking a treatise or preferably more than one that has used more
creative thinking - all within the limits of the law to create a
special document that expresses our final wishes. My feeling is that
with some good planning a person could remember also through their
will and associated letters, special friends, causes and much more.

With all the baby boomers now entering their senior years I am
thinking that there must be something put forward along the lines of
what I am looking for in the vast library of the world.

If this is not available in a book quite possibly there are magazine
or newspaper articles that have addressed this subject. I have posted
a separate question seeking periodical works ( Question ID: 596651 )


Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 25 Nov 2005 07:57 PST

Thanks.  That helps.

Here's a book that critical of the whole will-making enterprise, and
offers up an alternative that certainly has a creative flavor to it:
Loving Trust

"...Accepted notions of prudence in money matters -- joint bank
accounts, insurance beneficiary formulas and, above all, formal wills
-- get rough treatment in this study of estate planning by Esperti and
Peterson...They warn that such conventional procedures entail
complications and delays in cases of disability or death, with deep
attrition of assets through court and legal costs. Their alternative
is a little-known instrument called a Loving Trust ("Love sells. Love
makes people happy")..."

Let me know if this is closer to the mark.

Also, I'd like to know your thoughts about the literature on ethical
wills.  Does this offer anything of value to you, or do you find these
off-target for what you're interested in?


Request for Answer Clarification by uzzz-ga on 30 Nov 2005 04:13 PST
Hello paf

Thanks for suggesting "Loving Trust". I agree that they seem to be
approaching the testament process from a more imaginative perspective.
I have ordered a copy.



Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 30 Nov 2005 04:23 PST

Thanks so much!

This was a much tougher topic to researche than I thought it would be,
so I'm glad I was able to find a source (or two?) that sparked your

All the best,

uzzz-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Thank you.

Subject: Re: Writing a great will, how ???
From: nelson-ga on 06 Nov 2005 10:16 PST
By the time it's read you'll be dead anyway. . .
Subject: nelson-ga
From: uzzz-ga on 06 Nov 2005 10:50 PST
That may be the case but why not make a will that not only does the
traditional job but can also fullfill other objectives. A creative
will could do more than support family, it could remember friends,
charitable & non-profit organizations that you may have supported in
your life and much more. Your will is part of a permanent record...
your last say... and besides when you are dead your estate probably
has more money to donate around than you ever had when you were alive.
Just imagine if out of the blue someone remembered you with a small
token of appreciation for something they received from you years
Subject: Re: Writing a great will, how ???
From: angy-ga on 23 Nov 2005 04:13 PST
Your will is a legal document. Forget being creative. Be clear.
Subject: Re: Writing a great will, how ???
From: just_a_beachcomber-ga on 25 Nov 2005 08:04 PST
i think it would be great to leave a bottle of rum or my wine to old
friends who wouldnt be in a normal will. imagine getting a call out of
the blue an being told that you were being left something in a long
lost friends will even if it was only a bottle of his favorite rum.
wow i would be deeply touched
Subject: Re: Writing a great will, how ???
From: cynthia-ga on 08 Dec 2005 16:10 PST
You might get an idea or two from the film "Brewster's Millions" --at
the worst, it's very entertaining.

"Brewster's Millions"
..."The plot is disarmingly (and misleadingly) simple. Montgomery
Brewster (Pryor) stands to inherit a $300 million fortune from a long
lost uncle (played by Hume Cronyn), whose will is videotaped. The
catch? To get the money, Brewster must first spend $30 million in 30
days. An additional catch? After spending the $30 million in 30 days,
Monty still isn't allowed to own anything. At first I still didn't
think there would be that great a challenge, but in fact, as Monty
discovers, it's hard to spend $30 million without actually purchasing
anything of lasting value..."
Subject: Re: Writing a great will, how ???
From: uzzz-ga on 09 Dec 2005 02:40 PST
cynthia-ga  You are right that this could present some different ideas
and thinking outside of the conventional is what I am looking for.
Thank you for taking the time to comment.
Subject: Re: Writing a great will, how ???
From: cynthia-ga on 12 Dec 2005 13:49 PST

I ran into an interesting site while looking for information for my
brother, and I remembered your question. I thought you might like

The Top Ten Strangest Will Bequests

I found that here:

Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog
The Top Ten Strangest.. was from May 9, 2005, there's tons of creative
ideas here if you start reading posts.

Subject: Thank you cynthia-ga
From: uzzz-ga on 31 Dec 2005 03:18 PST

I just came across your Dec 12 post.

Thank you for the interesting reading!

Best wishes for a Happy New Year.


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