The word legacy has been used in many different ways. But something struck me about this idea, based on the original translation of the word:
A legacy is a person—living on in new ways throughout time.
Here at Deerfield, we serve clients who seek to find, create, and maintain meaning in not only their own lives but the lives of those around them. What better way to explore that relationship than with a discussion on legacy building?
Before we dive in, I want to encourage you to think about your own definition of legacy as we move through this piece and how these ideas can help bring your definition to life.
Speak Through Your Estate Plan
So often we conflate the terms estate planning and legacy planning. What do these ideas have in common? An estate plan is the purposeful organization of your assets in the event that you are unable to manage them yourself.
Estate planning garners a negative reputation for being unapproachable. But I think that reputation comes from the emotional weight of the decisions being made, not because of the decisions themselves. Estate planning sets you and your loved ones up for the future and helps to keep everything organized for when you really need it.
Legacy planning, in a similar vein, is a strategy you create for your assets to influence the generations that come after you. It is an extension of your estate in a way that can offer meaning and value to other people’s lives.
Through the proper organization of your estate plan, your legacy will shine through. Estate planning and legacy planning go hand in hand because they allow you to divide your estate and assets in a meaningful and impactful way.
By using these terms in tandem, you’re able to get creative and highly intentional with your estate plan. Select beneficiaries who share your vision and view for how the money they receive should be used. Allocate your assets to the people, places, and things that mean the most to you. Perhaps for you that might be starting a scholarship for kids in your hometown to help them attend college or donating part of your estate to a charity. Whatever it may be, using your estate plan to highlight your legacy is a great way to approach the estate planning process.
As you continue to move through retirement and establish your estate plan, I encourage you to keep maintain your commitment to charitable giving. In retirement, you can do this through donating a portion of your required minimum distributions (RMDs) to charity. You can also find ways to donate your time and talents. Charitable giving comes in many forms and is a wonderful way to build up the legacy you wish to leave behind.
You can even design an avenue for charitable giving to live on in your estate plan. If volunteer work and financial contributions have been an important part of your life, you can make it an important part of your estate plan as well. You can do this by gifting certain assets, annuities, and even creating a family foundation. When you are looking for meaningful ways to incorporate charitable giving into your estate plan, it is important to speak with your financial advisor so they can help you achieve your desired plan.
When working with my clients, I always ask them to think about their why and I encourage you now to contemplate yours. Why is charitable giving an important part of your estate plan? By answering this question, you will be better able to express the reason and meaning behind the legacy you want to leave.
Legacy & You
Remember, estate planning and legacy planning are about you so keep it personal. It is important to keep your needs and the needs of your loved ones in mind as you move through your estate plan.
Have conversations with your family and loved ones and try to make a plan together. That way, you are including them in your decision and showing them your vision. But always remember, this is your legacy, your plan. How do you want to define it? How do you see it? Use your answers to these questions as a catalyst to your estate plan and creating the legacy you deserve.
We love speaking with our clients about building their legacies. For us, that really means getting to know you, your goals, values, and priorities. Give us a call and we can help you build the right plan for you.