A legacy is created over time
Succession plans are not limited to the simple distribution of one’s assets. In addition to material possessions, memories, traditions and values can also be passed down as a legacy and there are places for them in a comprehensive estate plan.
Legacy is created over time. It is a lifelong process and the whole family can contribute to the financial, intellectual, social and spiritual wealth of the family.
An estate plan can begin with a family mission statement. Such a statement can give the grantor the opportunity to clearly articulate and describe the principles and beliefs of the family, thereby setting the tone for the interpretation of the grantor’s actions.
An estate plan can also contain a family tree. In today’s world, tracing one’s ancestors is easy and accessible. Including the family tree, sometimes even with brief descriptions of known family members, in one’s estate planning portfolio not only allows family members to ‘meet’ their ancestors, but it also makes it easier to follow up loved ones in case. where they would need to be contacted in order to inform them of their involvement in the estate.
Another way to introduce loved ones to their ancestors, or even to let them know more about the grantor, is to record family history, stories and traditions either by audio, video, or even under form of written stories. Sometimes the younger members of the family can be engaged in an interaction with their parents and grandparents by “interviewing” them and then writing the shared stories.
The grantor can also express in his estate plan what his wealth means to him, how it was realized and how it can be cultivated. Conveying sound financial advice as well as providing ethical business advice can be invaluable to heirs and beneficiaries.
A more formal way to blend financial and personal values in the estate plan is to create trusts that contain funds specifically earmarked for certain purposes. An education trust can help a beneficiary get an education that might otherwise be out of reach. An incentive trust can encourage certain personal and professional paths by conditioning the receipt of funds on the achievement of certain milestones. Finally, a charitable trust allows the grantor to cultivate the values that are close to his heart not only by supporting the causes that are close to his heart, but also by setting an example and showing future generations the value of charitable work.
Apart from the estate planning portfolio, and yet linked to it by the common goal of creating a family heirloom for future generations, there are other ways of forming a legacy: creating physical or digital photo albums, maintaining old traditions alive, creating new traditions, visiting where your ancestors lived and sharing family stories both verbally and in writing.
When one thinks of an inheritance, the first thing that comes to mind is accumulated wealth, but inheritance and estate planning are more than just legal documents distributing assets on death. Memories, traditions, values and dreams should also be shared and remembered, so be sure to include them in your estate plan to pass on what is important to you to future generations.