Estate planning is something that is supposed to be done before one dies. The legal document in the estate planning process is called the will. The will determines how a person’s financial affairs are to be dealt with at death. It shows how assets are to be transferred to the desired recipients at the desired times with details of any restrictions. It should suggest the simplest and most cost-effective way for the transfer to occur and with the least amount of tax paid.
It sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? Not really. Who likes to think about their own demise? That’s why many put off and/or never get around to proper estate planning. We are about to suggest an alternative way to think about it and lead to a more holistic will. It’s called legacy planning.
The key word here is planning. Without proper planning you end up with a default legacy. Another type of legacy is the politically correct legacy. And the type of legacy that is the most rewarding is the organic legacy.
The first step toward organic legacy planning is to reflect back upon your life. We are not talking about glorifying the “good old days.” You want to gain an understanding of what your life has been all about. A journal is quite useful for this purpose. Remember when and where you made a difference. Identify personal, family, and career achievements. Recall people who made a difference in your life and where you made a difference in someone else’s life. As this process evolves you will develop an understanding of what you want to pass along and how you want to be remembered.
It is a demanding process that should not be tackled alone. It may require teamwork to do an effective job of developing your legacy. The baby boom generation is in the ideal position and should be ready, willing and able to assist their aging parents and other senior adults with this final task. Appreciate that our elders are not really “losing it”, but rather they are progressing through a different stage of life at a different pace. It’s a time when the older adult is not hurried and looking for the next promotion. Decisions are not necessary on the spot. Our older adults move more slowly, process information more slowly, and make decisions more carefully. The trick is to be patient with our elders and never allow them to feel that they have lost control.
It takes time and support to sort through one’s life. Invite your family or close friends to take part in your journey. Tell your stories and revisit the events that shaped your life. There will be good memories as well as bad ones. Some memories may be painful while others will be filled with joy. It will be an exhaustive inventory of events that need to be considered. It goes far beyond a mere recording of history for future generations. It is your personal search for your definition of purpose and meaning. When complete, you should have a clear understanding of your life events and how you want to be remembered. Then you can finalize your legacy plan and complete your will.
The foregoing is for general information purposes and is the opinion of the writer. This information is not intended to provide personal advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, legal, accounting or tax advice. Please call or write to Rick Sutherland CLU, CFP, FDS, R.F.P., to discuss your particular circumstances or suggest a topic for future articles at 613-798-2421 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Mutual Funds provided through FundEX Investments Inc.