First of all, “legacy planning” is not the same thing as “estate planning” in estate planning legal circles. The technical definition of a legacy is a gift or bequest made in a will, which is part of an estate plan. Forbes takes an interesting approach towards explaining legacy planning in a recent article, “Three Common Misconceptions About Legacy Planning.” It defines legacy planning as a proactive approach to defining and ideally, achieving, a legacy that an individual wishes to leave behind.
Here are some frequent misconceptions about legacy planning:
I’m not vain or successful enough to have such plans. For some, the idea of creating and leaving a legacy is uncomfortable. They think they haven’t or won’t accomplish anything significant enough to be preserved. They also think that preserving their legacy means preserving their individual name and story. That can feel like they’re putting themselves on a pedestal and saying, “look at how great I am.” It may seem egotistical. However, legacy planning starts with a simple notion that everyone is entitled to a happy, fulfilled life that is achieved through striving to become your best self and accomplishing your greatest success. When you die, your legacy plan is less about preserving who you are as an individual and more about preserving your life’s work.
Ruling from the grave? Seriously? This suggests that you are not relinquishing control of how your heirs and future generations carry on the family legacy. Control is not truly the focal point of legacy planning. It’s about the freedom to find and become your best self and to achieve your greatest success life. Then after your death, when it comes to protecting the wealth and assets through which your legacy lives, your plan should empower those in charge. It will ensure that your heirs and future generations will be intentional in carrying your purpose forward.
Only truly wealthy people leave a legacy behind. Everyone leaves behind a legacy, whether it is made up of the stories that are handed down from one generation to the next, values that are a central part of your family’s life, or it is a scholarship fund that aids four generations of low-income students in attending college. Legacy planning is about taking an active role in deciding what matters to you and how you would like to share those values when you are gone.
As you think about legacy planning, seek an estate planning professional to guide you through the process. At Family Estate Planning Law Group, we strongly encourage our clients to hold family meetings to discuss your legacy and estate planning goals. The better your loved ones understand your intentions before you pass, the better the chances the plan will work the way you wish.
For further information regarding this and other estate planning topics, explore our website and connect with us to schedule your consultation today!
Reference: Forbes (November 15, 2017) “Three Common Misconceptions About Legacy Planning”