Many consider estate planning to be writing a Will, completing advance medical directives and establishing a retirement plan. Estate planning has evolved to the point where legacy planning is now making an appearance in many comprehensive estate plans. Legacy planning allows you to preserve your values, memories and final wishes to ease the burden of your passing on your family and friends.
While an estate plan eases the financial burden, legacy planning includes the emotional aspect of losing a loved one. Leaving a legacy allows one to reflect on their life, pass along important values and even establish a family philosophy.
As you can see, legacy planning is no small task with goals such as these. Legacy plans often include:
- A letter to the Executor of your estate: While not legally binding, it can include last wishes, funeral plans, organ donations and even the passwords to computer files and accounts.
- A master list of records: This can include people you would like contacted upon your death, a list of assets and creditors, a list of addresses and accounts, etc.
- A letter to your loved ones: Many choose to leave behind a letter to their family members to help ease the emotional time after their passing and explain the reasoning behind asset distribution.
- Family stories: In the past, many have written down family stories to preserve the memories, these days, many are turning to videotaping to add a more personal touch to this task.
- Recipes: Your treasured family recipes should live on for future generations. Write them down and add personal stories to keep the traditions alive.
- Scrapbooks and photo albums: Preserve memories and photographs for the future.
Ellen Goodman, a writer for the Boston Globe summed up legacy planning well: “This packrat has learned that what the next generation will value most is not what we owned, but the evidence of who we were and the tales of how we loved. In the end, it’s the family stories that are worth the storage.”
Some may use the terms estate planning and legacy planning interchangeably, we consider legacy planning to include not only estate planning but adding the emotional aspect of leaving a legacy to your loved ones.