Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend and we started talking about our families. He mentioned that he had completed his estate plan. He met with his attorney and financial advisor and got input from his accountant too. He went on to say that he was pleased with all of the documents and thought that the plan was a good one. As the conversation continued, he started talking about his father who came from the ”old country” and his grandfather who worked the family farm in Europe. His emotions were getting stronger. Then he talked about his wife, kids and grandkids and felt he has done a good job in terms of providing for them financially. Our conversation then began to focus around what he felt for each of his family members and more importantly how he wanted to have them remember him. As I listened, I thought something was missing. So, I suggested that he consider what he wanted his legacy to be. We then began to focus around what he felt for each of his family members and more importantly how he wanted to have them remember him.
Going beyond the traditional concept of estate planning which usually means wanting to control one’s property while alive and well and plan for oneself and one’s loved ones if disabled. It also includes the ability to give what I have, to whom I want, when I want and the way I want all at the lowest possible cost to me and to those I love and now adding the concept of legacy to the estate plan.
So, let’s consider how to add legacy to one’s estate plan.
The concept legacy has a broader meaning. In this context it does not mean necessarily great feats or accomplishments during your life. We all achieve varying degrees of success and meet our fair share of disappointments, but I think everyone has a story to tell that they hope will have an impact on those that come after them. So, what if you had the opportunity to share your dreams, visions, and wisdom with you son or daughter, what would you say? The answer to this question can have a dramatic impact on the lives of the people. Why would it be important? People relate to their stories, and that is how they relate to their legacies – how they would like to be remembered by the people they love.
Creating as true legacy is a great way to remember someone’s contribution and achievements, life lessons and desire to help. It can make a meaningful difference in someone’s life. It can aid the younger generation so they can grow up understanding what the family assets are all about and also to gain a better understanding that is not a gift but a responsibility. By adding legacy (your story) that is to make sure that in addition to my financial wealth – my values and vison – will enhance the lives of those I love.
We should share not only our stories, but our intentions with our family frequently. Since documents can be created that can last for more than our lifetimes, doesn’t it make sense for the matriarch or patriarch of the family to capture their legacy vision so that future generations can benefit.
More importantly, many people want to share their vison for their families so that future generations will understand the love and hard work that went into the creation of the wealth in the first place. It lays the groundwork that all that hard work provided to create and maintain the vision over time. Capturing a recorded or written legacy may be one of the most exciting things you can do for you family. Think about the wisdom you can communicate to help future generations deal with the issues of their day. Further, think about communicating the legacy to children who are too young to appreciate the wealth being passed or the business being transferred to give them a better understanding as they mature.
You can take the first step by setting up a meeting with a trusted professional and begin to gather information and gain clarity. Second, get input from experienced advisors who are independent and will be objective. Third, start drafting a plan with action items and recommendations from the professionals and get input from the family.
For more information about creating legacies of significance contact Michael G. Stuart JD, CPA at 847-398-7901 or visit www.familylegacyalliance.com