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Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper Paperback – December 24, 2001

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Doctor and hospice director Barry K. Baines guides the dying on taking charge of the emotional legacies they leave behind in Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper. 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 examples.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


"Baines is the nation's leading ethical will proponent." -- San Diego Union-Tribune 03/21/04

"This user-friendly volume is a must-have resource for families who are on a spiritual journey." -- Spirituality and Health February, 2002

"[This book] has attracted people, including women, of many faiths to craft ethical wills at various life junctures." -- Fort Wayne News-Sentinel 03/12/04

Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (December 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738206113
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738206110
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,465,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

While most of us at some time in our lives have thought about the kind of legacy we would like to leave behind, few of us have actually written the words down. How do we want to be remembered? What messages do we want to leave for our families, and the significant people in our lives? Dr. Barry Baines has written an excellent guidebook on how to put these words and thoughts on paper. His writing is straightforward, understandable and filled with humor. More importantly, the book is rich with examples. Dr. Baines has collected "ethical" wills from people of all ages and stages of life. As Dr. Dan Tobin writes in the foreword, ". . .you will find that this book is not only about creating such documents, but about living and aging well." Buy the book today and start putting your values on paper. Your words will be one of the greatest gifts you can bestow on those you love.
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Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper provides a terrific introduction to ethical wills, with historical background, specific guidelines for writing an ethical will, and a variety of samples. With its reader-friendly tone and clear suggestions, Ethical Wills makes a useful handbook for anyone interested in creating such a document. I especially appreciated the sample wills to show a range of approaches.
This book was a great help to me when I started writing ethical wills. As a member of the Association of Personal Historians, I help others record their own ethical wills and family stories. I keep this book in my professional library and recommend it often.
My only beef? It's too short! I wanted more samples and more history. Guess I'll have to wait for Dr. Baines' next book.
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By ellen on November 5, 2005
Ethical Wills is a must read for each and everyone of us! Not only is it fascinating to learn about the history behind such wills, but the workbook he provides the readers with is such an valuable tool.

We all need to be concerned about writing an ethical will while we are still able to communicate our wishes. My late mother had Alzheimer's and it was so very devastating and frightening to see her no longer able to communicate her wishes. Thankfully, we had spoken about what she wanted her last wishes to be long before Alzheimer's destroyed her mind.

I do not know if I, too, will one day suffer her same fate so I am taking all of the necessary steps NOW while I am still able to communicate to make my final wishes known. This book has been an invaluable help to me as well as another wonderful new publication by Renata Marie Vestevich. "Grant Me My Final Wish: A personal journal to simplify life's inevitable journey." This book is a wonderful companion to Dr. Baine's book. While his book is a workbook of sorts, Ms. Vestevich's book is a beautifully bound journal that you can write in whenever you have time. These two books work beautifully together. Ms. Vestevich's book leads you gently through the process of making your final wishes known to your loved ones. She guides you through the process of making that ethical will in a very compassionate manner. There is even a place within the journal for you to place beloved pictures and write down special memories.

None of us likes to dwell upon our eventual death. However, having seen my mother destroyed by Alzheimer's and her being no longer able to communicate even the simplest of wishes, I strongly urge all of you to take steps now to make your last wishes known!

These two superbly written books...each very special in their very own way..will help you do just that.
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I purchased Barry K. Baines, Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper, at the suggestion of a friend who had read it and been inspired to write an ethical will for her children. It seemed like a good idea to me. We cannot help but relay our values and beliefs to our children--they pick them up by osmosis. I think, though, that we seldom sit down and think through what we would LIKE to convey to our children, including ways in which we have not lived up to our values or would like them to do better than we.

At the same time that I bought Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper, I also bought Rachael Freed's Women's Lives, Women's Legacies: Passing Your Beliefs & Blessings to Future Generations. I prefered this book. It may be that I prefered the second book because, as a woman, it spoke more to my concerns, but I think not. Dr. Baines focuses on his work with the terminally ill, and the healing power of putting our thoughts on paper. Many of the examples he gives read like old Polonius's hipocritical, "Neither a barrower nor a lender be...," platitudes that most in this culture would accept. Ms. Freed takes us on a journey of discovery--discovery of ourselves. Whether done in a group, as Ms. Freed suggests, or independently, as I would most likely tackle such personal writing, her topics are likely to bring us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and enable us to create a more personal document for our loved ones.
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