“You are not rich until you have something that money cannot buy…” (anonymous)

What do you want to pass on to future generations? According to Roy Williams and Vic Preisser, in the book Preparing Heirs, 90% of wealth will not transfer to the third generation. If you are thinking that would never happen in your family, you may be at the most risk. You can put certain protective measures in place such as trusts to help avoid this problem, but your wealth is more than money. You have a family legacy to leave!

Legacy Planning and Estate Planning

Most estate planning focuses around final arrangements, assigning executors, trusts and the dispensing of your wishes concerning your estate. It usually concerns your financial, real estate, and business assets. However, there’s something more to consider: your non-monetary assets—the things money cannot buy—the things you most value.

Your legacy includes the sum of your family values and goals, heritage and history, and personal stories and property. It tells lessons about handling money properly and the blessings that generosity brings. It is the story of God in your life and the lives of your ancestors. I’m guessing these are valuable to you and you’d rather they not be buried with you! How do you pass these on to future generations?

Critical Conversations Concerning Your Legacy

Everyone gets a little uneasy when discussing matters surrounding our passing. Even if you’re ready to talk about it, your children may want to dismiss it as too premature or too uncomfortable to address. Instead, talking to family members in the context of family legacy as opposed to death and inheritance can be a cause for celebration rather than consternation.

Ensuring Wealth is Enduring

With the passing of each family member, a little bit of the family legacy is lost. Money can be gained and lost and regained, but these precious riches cannot be retrieved. In your legacy planning consider engaging in the following exciting activities.

Conversations surrounding family values and mission

Heirs cannot be expected to embrace and carry on your values, mission, or charitable causes if they haven’t been included in the planning. This is not the kind of planning an attorney or CPA will likely do for you, so you need to be intentional about family meetings. You’ll hear me say it again and again. Be intentional! Ask questions. This is an excellent time to have open conversation about values and even discuss how the generations differ in their opinions.

According to a report from The Williams Group concerning the transferring of wealth to heirs, after interviewing 2,500 successful families who had transferred wealth to their heirs they concluded: “Overwhelmingly, they told us that their values were the most important gift they could pass on to loved ones…money and ‘things’ are transitory, the values your family hold are paramount” (Bridging the Generations: What families need to know before transferring wealth, The Williams Group, January 21, 2016, http://www.thewilliamsgroup.org/blog_post.cfm?id=79).

Your Legacy—Tangible and Intangible Wealth

Your Legacy—Tangible and Intangible Wealth
Use this chart as a guide to thinking about your wealth in a holistic way—how you will pass on all of your wealth.

Recording family history and stories

Intentionally use family gatherings to record family history and stories. Get out your phone or video camera to make a permanent record. Here’s some suggested conversations from my December 15, 2017 blog: “Making Memories to Last a Lifetime.”

  • When mom and dad or grandma and grandpa were kids
  • First jobs and what life lessons were learned
  • The funniest thing that ever happened
  • A recounting of faith journeys
  • Past family traditions and celebrations
  • A recollection of a visit to grandma and grandpa’s house

 

Assigning your personal property

We know that upon someone’s passing emotions can be highly charged. Family members may be uncharacteristically quarrelsome, easily offended, or emboldened concerning final arrangements, real estate, and even your personal property. You will do your family a great favor by putting everything in writing in advance. Often it is the things that are not spelled out that cause the greatest conflict. You’d be surprised at how often quarrels arise over jewelry, art, furniture items, heirlooms, and keepsakes! Take time in advance to talk to family members about what items interest them and make sure this is somehow expressed so all are aware. The last thing you want is for your passing to cause a rift between your children. Rather, your most important legacy is help your children continue to benefit from close bonds in their relationships long after you are gone.

Don’t Put Off Your Legacy Planning

It’s always the right time to invest in your legacy planning! This isn’t something you put off until your later years. Engaging your family in the activities I’ve mention is of utmost importance but can be great fun, too.

I’d consider it a privilege to work with you on your legacy plan. I can assist you with financial and estate planning as well as provide more ideas like those mentioned in this blog. My desire is to ensure that what you value endures and blesses many future generations! Contact me now!

Judy

“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17 (NLT)

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