Legacy: Why Should Anyone Care?
Why should anyone care about this concept of Legacy? Why should you or your clients concern yourself with the creating a Legacy that extends beyond financial assets?
Traditionally the term “legacy” has been used in the financial and estate planning circles to describe how to transfer wealth (money and property) to others after death. And while the main focus of most financial professionals is to help create and preserve family wealth for generations, there is still a missing element…
The importance of this type of planning cannot be overstated, but people often neglect to create a plan for capturing, preserving and passing on their emotional assets as well – leaving a legacy of values.
Leaving a legacy is about more than just leaving an inheritance; and isn’t something that we just “leave behind,” but is something that we intentionally pass along. A legacy is about what you contribute in your lifetime and is as unique to you as your fingerprint because it represents you. Leaving a legacy is about the values, principals, and ideals you’ve cultivated throughout the course of a unique and individual life. It includes how you’ve lived, what you’ve done, and the lasting benefit you’ve created in the lives of others. While finances are an important component of that, real wealth is much more than money and property.
In our industry this concept of Legacy is sometimes referred to as the “soft side” of estate planning; as it often takes into consideration the intangibles as well as the tangibles in the planning process. Building and creating an intentional and meaningful Legacy is a process of establishing end-of-life plans that are consistent with one’s values and final wishes and considers the kind of mark a person wants to leave on the world, their children, and on future generations.
Instead of speaking with clients about “estate planning,” inquire about the type of Legacy they’d like to create, and the kind of mark they’d like to leave on the world. This approach will generate a much better response and is a very different conversation.
The topic of inheritance can often be a very challenging, complex and difficult subject, and often invokes thoughts and images of death, greed, money and taxes. The subject of death and dying is often taboo and is rarely discussed. This is also partially due to the fact that there are often a lot of misunderstandings and conflict that arise during this type of conversation. There’s also a generation gap and differing viewpoints.
But by approaching wealth transfer and estate planning from the viewpoint of Legacy, your client can better share and articulate their hopes, fears, and motivations – much because there’s a focus on passing along values and not just wealth.
by Mark T. Davis