Five Questions to Kick Start Legacy Planning
January 6, 2014
The start of the year often begins with goal setting. What are your New Year’s Resolutions? What do you want to accomplish in the next 12 months? Setting goals for a year or even for shorter periods of time usually seems manageable. You can see the plan, the process, and pick a place to start.
But, what about those goals that seem far away? When you begin thinking about long-term goals such as leaving a legacy, it can be much more difficult to visualize what needs to be done or even where to begin.
As part of First Western’s Connecting Generations series, we have identified five key questions to help you start a legacy discussion that goes far beyond a will or an estate plan.
1) What would you like to do that you haven’t yet?
So often, people think of legacy as what you pass on after you’re gone, but it’s much more than that. As you look at all you have accomplished so far, what would you still like to do? Travel to the Great Barrier Reef? Start a non-profit organization? Take stock of the things that are still on your list; then, we can help build a strategy to reach them.
2) What has given you the most sense of purpose?
You’ve accomplished a great deal in your lifetime – started a business, engaged in philanthropy, built important family memories. Consider which aspects in your life have made the most impact on you or made you feel best. These are the things that will help define your later years and things you should strive to share with those close to you.
3) What do you see as the responsibilities of wealth?
You’ve worked hard to get where you are, and as you think about passing on your wealth (just one part of your legacy) to family, friends, or charitable organizations, what do you hope they do with it? Consider what values you want to instill to accompany these gifts or what your goals are for your wealth.
4) Which life experiences, lessons learned, or family stories do you hope your family remembers?
When you think of legacy planning, consider it more as a life story. Perhaps there is a lesson you want to share so that the next generation doesn’t have to learn it firsthand, or maybe your grandparents told you a family story you hope is never forgotten. Writing down or sharing these important experiences with your family is a great way to connect.
5) How can you express your love and gratitude for your family and life’s accomplishments?
The most important part of leaving a legacy is connecting with future generations and celebrating everything you’ve done together. Whether it’s a simple thank you, written notes, or something bigger, ask yourself in what ways you want to show appreciation for your parents, siblings, children, or grandchildren so that you can begin incorporating these acts into your life today.
There are many outcomes to these questions, and the methods used to share a legacy are different for every family. Some may write a letter, others create a video, but regardless of the method, the first step is simply to begin thinking about what you want to share with future generations.
By understanding your ultimate goals, deciding what you still want to do, and determining what you want to leave behind, you can enlist a partner to help map out the next steps in your life legacy, but it all starts by asking yourself a few key questions.