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One Conversation Can Connect Generations

By Jim Sprout

Many of us want to talk to our children and grandchildren about our hopes for them after we’re gone but don’t know how to begin.  Neither do they, but it’s easier to begin the conversation than you think.

Inheritance is more than the money we leave behind; it’s our heritage, family stories and vision for the future.  Beyond tax strategies, estate plans, and trusts, it is important to help our children and grandchildren become better stewards of our legacy.  We want them to look at what we have left behind and say: “That sounds like mom and dad, and I can see why they wanted that for me.”

We want our children to understand the purposes of our plan and preserve the wealth and legacy that we leave them, but how do we connect with the next generation in an enduring and purposeful way?  Legacy planning is a lifetime process that strengthens the impact of your estate and inheritance plan with your life history, heritage, values, experiences and memories.

By following these steps we can help our children begin to better understand and preserve the wealth and the legacy we leave them.

1.  Consider talking to a trusted third party advisor.

An intra-family generational study conducted by Fidelity in 2012 found that when it comes to legacy planning, people find it easier to talk with a professional financial advisor than a family member. They can help you enrich and clarify traditional estate planning and identify which important issues you need to tackle that are currently left undone.

2.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What lessons, values, and experiences do I want to pass on?
  • What family stories and memories do I hope my children remember?
  • What are my hopes for their future?
  • How can I express my love and gratitude for my family and life’s accomplishments?

3.  Create your legacy plan. 

Creating a legacy plan is unique to each family. There are many benefits but for sure, legacy planning allows you to see the integration and wholeness of your life.  Organizing your life through a story or letter is like re-experiencing your journey with a new sense of inspiration and gratitude.  There are a number of options to consider in creating your legacy plan.  One possible solution is a life story video or legacy letter.  This record could include the heritage, history, lessons and stories as well as what has brought you meaning and purpose.  It is important to articulate your values and hopes for the future as well as express your love and gratitude for your family.  Finally, we generally recommend that you explain the “why” behind your estate, inheritance, charitable and legacy plan.  This is a way to make your planning more purposeful.

First Western believes this process will help our clients connect personal, business and philanthropic goals as a family and make their legacy more enduring and meaningful.  Through this process, we believe families and next generations will have a higher opportunity of staying connected and that their planning will be a positive influence in the lives of their loved ones and for their charitable interests.

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