"It can be a great tool for helping define oneself to the next generation — what's important to me, what I stood for," said Eric Weiner, a Mequon marriage and family therapist and author of "Words from the Heart: A Practical Guide to Writing an Ethical Will."
Mequon is the name of a place in Wisconsin, not a religion. The religion under discussion is Judaism. (Yom Kippur begins today.)
While some will inevitably use the process to nurture a grudge from the grave, Weiner said, he encourages writers to be positive. An ethical will, written and timed well, can start a family conversation and defuse some of the animosity that surrounds decisions about money and business succession.
"It's possible, when one writes this, to bring some healing to a relationship that would benefit from that," he said.