Legacy is more than money — it’s what people think, feel and remember when they speak or hear your name. In addition, Legacy is one of the most difficult and important issues we all face because it has to do with our existence and answers these three important questions:
- Who am I?
- Why am I here?
- Have I made a difference?
Traditional planning is all about strategies, tactics, and tools, and when finished, often leaves loved ones confused and never knowing the story and meaning behind the legacy.
I believe that planning should begin with vision, values, and your goals. I think it’s important for each of us to pass on our stories, heritage, and wisdom along with our wealth and treasures.
The late philanthropist, Marjorie Fisher, said it best:
“Legacy begins in the heart and then you move to your head.”
We really need to incorporate both and when they both work in harmony, several things happen:
- The Matriarch and Patriarch are honored and are able to share and pass their values and vision along with their wealth to the next generation.
- The next generation will be engaged and empowered to continue the legacy and to see themselves as wealth creators and understanding that their role is to preserve and grow the legacy — rather than drain and squander the gifts they have received.
- There is a uniform process in place for legal, financial, and medical decisions to be made during the transition from one generation to the next.
- And most of all, the next generation is prepared to carry on the family legacy to future generations as productive members of their community and the world in general.
I had the honor of helping my stepfather and my mother with their Legacy Planning. My dear stepfather married my mother when he was 72 years and she was 58. I was a new financial planner — just 28 at the time — but Dale invited me to be part of his financial and estate planning team.
Thank God we did this planning early when options were plentiful and affordable, because 14 years later when Dale was 86 and my mother was 72, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. During that time, my mother was diagnosed with Dementia.
This could have been a mess, but because of the wonderful planning and legal documents we put into place, we were able to:
- Pay bills
- File tax returns
- Access medical records and talk to doctors
- Manage investments
- Sell his home and get their new assisted living apartment ready for them when he was released from rehab
- Keep everything private
- And make sure his estate not only took care of my mom during her lifetime, but passed free of probate to his two children at my mom’s death
The greatest gift was that we were able to focus on mom and dad’s quality of life and quality of care. There was no rushing around. Everything was in place. In fact, before his death, my stepfather called me his “Miracle Worker.” This still gives me goose bumps till this day. I am so grateful we were able to have a plan in place.
Before my stepfather died, we brought him to the lake, and I created a Legacy Story video of him telling his story to his children that I presented to his family and friends after his death.
During the video, Dale was able to share:
- what he wanted them to remember about him and his parents;
- mistakes he had made and hoped they would not repeat;
- and the wisdom he had gained during his lifetime.
What if you could tell your story and share your vision, values, and lessons in a form that your loved ones would not only understand, but could cherish for many generations to come? You can do this with a letter, an audio, or a video. This can accompany the traditional planning and be presented at death, or better yet, while alive!
I suggest doing this today because none of us know when our time will come. My birth father died at 32. Thank God, my mother was the great archivist and I have so much of his story preserved, but I would love to have had a video of my father telling me his story.
I want to leave you with this key idea:
- Legacy is more than money
- It’s what people think, feel and remember when they hear or speak your name
- Because the life you lead is the legacy you leave
If you would like to hear my Legacy Life Story presentation in full, along with the exercises I introduced during the presentation, click here for a 25-minute audio presentation. Then if you want to go deeper about your life, legacy, and planning, you can schedule a private phone session with me at www.talkwithkatana.com.
Katana Abbott, CFP®, is a Midlife Millionaire® Coach, founder of the Smart Women Companies, and the host Smart Women Talk Radio with over a million subscribers. For over 30 years, Katana has shown women how to take charge of their life and finances and believes it’s never too early to plan for expected and unexpected events like retirement, encore careers, moving abroad, or preparing for long-term care. She has written several books, created a financial literacy course, and is a popular speaker. Katana has been honored by NAWBO as one of Detroit’s Top 10 Business Women, receiving the Breakthrough Award. To download her new retirement guide, Three Smart Strategies for a Midlife Millionaire® Lifestyle. visit www.katanaabbott.com