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?

I believe legacy begins in the heart and moves to the head. Planning should begin with vision, values, and your goals rather than the more traditional method that revolves around strategies, tactics, and tools that, when finished, often leaves loved ones confused and never knowing the story and meaning behind the legacy. In addition, I think it’s important for each of us to pass on our stories, heritage, and wisdom along with our wealth and treasures. How do you do this? Let me share a story with you.

My mother and step-father married when he was 74 and she was 58. My step-father wanted to ensure my mother would be taken care of when he passed away, so he told me he was putting everything in joint ownership with her. I suggested there may be a better way that would not only take care of my mother, but also his children (who were almost her age). How many times have you heard of children losing their inheritance after a second marriage?  It can easily be avoided with proper planning.

We met with an estate planning attorney who created and funded a trust that would keep everything private. In addition, this planning included very important living benefits. You see, before my step-father died, he was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 86. At that same time, my mother was diagnosed with Dementia.

The planning we had done 15 years earlier now created a smooth and seamless process that allowed us to handle their affairs without going to court. This included:

  • paying their bills;
  • filing tax returns;
  • accessing medical records and speaking doctors on their behalf;
  • managing investments;
  • selling their home and moving them to assisted living;
  • making sure his estate not only took care of my mom during her lifetime, but passed free of probate to his two children at my mother’s death.

One of the biggest benefits is that we were able to focus on his quality of life and quality of care during that last year of his life. What I did not share is that as part of the financial and legal planning, I created a “legacy video” of my step-father for his children, grandchildren, and friends  I presented this video to his family after his death. In this legacy video, he was able to share in the most beautiful way:

  • stories about his life and where he grew up;
  • what he wanted them to remember;
  • the lessons he had learned;
  • and the wisdom he had gained.

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 you’re alive!

I suggest doing this today because none of us know when our time will come. My birth father died accidentally at 32. Thank goodness my mother was the great archivist, so I have so much of his story preserved. For most, however, those stories and history are lost.

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 say your name, because the life you lead is the legacy you leave!

I invite you to listen to my 25 minute Legacy Life Story audio presentation in full where I share several exercises to help you get clarity about your purpose and your legacy. Prefer to talk with me privately?  Then schedule a complementary Discovery Coaching session by visiting my online calendar.

Katana Abbott, CFP® practitioner, is a Wealth Coach™, host of the Smart Women Talk Radio™, founder of the Smart Women Companies with over 1 million subscribers globally, inspirational speaker and author of several books. She began her financial planning career in 1987 and became a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner. In 2003, Katana created Smart Women’s Coaching® to offer financial coaching and educational workshops for women in transition who are dealing with caregiving, death of a loved one, divorce, retirement or looking to create or grow a business.  She founded Smart Women’s Empowerment in 2008 to bring free financial empowerment resources and programs to women around the world through her team of Contributing Experts. To learn more about Katana Abbott visit www.katanaabbott.com.