What is an ethical will?


“Unlike a ‘last will and testament’ disposing of one’s estate or an advanced directive for health care decisions, an ethical will is not legally binding. Rather, a good ethical will transmits values, life lessons, family history, and other experiences to those left behind when the author dies. One pictures a written version of those few choice words of wisdom spoken by a family elder on his/her deathbed. While the legal will deals with material goods, the ethical will is meant to pass on the non-material goods and family traditions of equal or greater importance”.

– Ethical Wills by Barry K Baines, 2002

Ethical Will’s can be passed down in many different ways and formats. The ethical will tutorials below are articulated through video as it was Lawrence Darani’s chosen medium. This is because of the poignant nature of seeing someone on film and being able to communicate directly to the viewer.


Lawrence Darani (1951-2014)

The MyWishes team were introduced to ‘ethical wills’ by Lawrence Darani. Lawrence became both someone we supported and a mentor. Before Lawrence died he created a number of ethical will tutorials for those interested in him and his thinking. He hoped that these would serve as guidelines for MyWishes users interested in creating their own ethical will.


Lawrence Darani

Creating your Ethical Will(s)

An ethical will can be passed down in many forms. The videos below each have a specific purpose and subject matter to address. Lawrence was inspired by Irvin D. Yalom’s book ‘Staring At The Sun: Being at peace with your own mortality: Overcoming the Terror of Death’.  We are honoured that both Lawrence and his family have allowed us to show them. In doing so, Lawrence is still educating and teaching despite no longer being with us. His legacy as a existentialist, teacher and forward thinker truly does, ‘live on’.

There are no rules regarding what message or messages you should leave after your death. It should however be true to the person you are today and take into consideration to feelings of those who will watch it.

Creating your first video

The video below provides a great overview about the person Lawrence was and the values he lived his life by. We hope that you find this as inspiring as we do.

The formative events of my life

The formative events of my life is a video that highlights events in Lawrence’s life that had a profound influence on him.