The word legacy gets thrown around a lot these days. And with good reason—it's an important idea to think about as we grow, perhaps lose a loved one or seek more personal agency with how we live into our values and show up for others. But what does it mean to have a legacy? And how do you go about creating one?
In this blog post, I'll discuss three key elements of a personal legacy: The first is your relationships with other people. The second is your finances and assets. And the third is your impact on the world around you (and what it means for future generations).
You might find that some or all of these points resonate with you more than others—but they're all-important considerations when thinking about what your legacy will be!
Legacy planning is one of the most important things you can do for your life and even your family, in how you define family, in being a positive role model. When it comes to making sure that your ideals, beliefs, and principles lives on after you're gone, it's hard to know where to start or what will be most effective in protecting your transfer of intangible property such as identity, family identity or a set of values to serve as an emotional foundation in roots.
Luckily, there are some amazing resources out there to help you get started with developing a legacy plan for your business! Here are a few things that we think should go into any good legacy plan, in addition to the legal or trust documents:
-A hardcover coffee table book of your and/or your family’s values, identifying how you are and what it is you believe where knowledge, like money, is a tool. This form of intellectual wealth can show up as wisdom, real life experiences and acknowledgement of skill sets. This book, made with or without a coach or advisor, serves to invite others into the story of your life or lives in allowing others to know you as more than a name in your collective wisdom.
-Speaking of money, what if there are clarity of your feelings, or written letters, that address perspectives on money, as today’s affluent at 2/3’s self-made. How did your parents and grandparents view money, wealth, stewardship and the idea of being a contributing member of society? And what is the connection between the tool of money and your principles, life lessons and preferences as well as your vision and mission statement?
-In averting future crisis, whether you dump your assets onto others without preparation of what this means or not, what is the vision for your legacy in its bigger picture to include philanthropic giving or even what you can do with 10% of your time each week in helping others in your impact on humanity and society. How can your legacy plan capture your heart, soul as well as a framework that holds you accountable with each coming year and thereafter? Perhaps there is opportunity only you can transfer, whether it is to your actual children or to other beneficiaries, that can encourage and inspire a hunger to keep learning, self-reliance to find remedies, and a work ethic.
To build your legacy plan out further, an estate attorney or financial planner can assist you with:
- An updated will that includes instructions for how any assets should be divided up among shareholders and other stakeholders (i.e., family members);
-A living will that details who should make medical decisions on behalf of the person who created it (if they become incapacitated);
-A healthcare proxy that names someone who can make decisions about end-of-life care when necessary;
-A durable power of attorney document that names someone who can make financial decisions on behalf of the person who created it (if they become incapacitated); and
-A list of any known health conditions or allergies that may impact end-of-life care decisions
We hope this helps you as you consider how best to protect your legacy, in how procrastination can lead your decisions compared to your creativity and courage in each suggestions above. After all, what apathy is doing to your legacy is just not right.
In closing, my first thought was to make a list of things that people should consider when thinking about their legacy planning. I'm sure this is a common problem for many people who are concerned with leaving behind a lasting impact on the world. I'd like to help them by offering these starting suggestions for what they can include in their own personal plans.
-Think about how you want to be remembered. What are your values? What do you care about? How do you want others to think of you? These questions will help you figure out what kind of legacy you want to leave behind as a starting point.
-In the exercise of writing your eulogy this week and then, framing it to revisit it visually on your wall, what do you want your memorial service to be like … as in “what kinds of things would you like people to say about you one day?” What kind of person did you want to be during your life? These questions will help determine what elements you want included in your plan.
In addition to who should have access to your legal or banking information, who would you like to make your successor if there is a business? Who should make these decisions if something happens to you before you have time to write your own plans down? These questions will help determine who needs access to this information and what they need access to (ie: written instructions vs having someone tell them verbally). Congrats on taking personal agency of your life’s legacy!