How to Pass Your Stories and Values to the Future Generations
Money may be the most talked asset within a person’s estate, but the riches of experience and wisdom can – and most of the time do – mean even more to family members down the line. Reinforcement of family traditions can be built into your estate plan alongside your wishes regarding your money, property, and belongings. After all, what really makes a family a family is its values and traditions — not the way its finances read on paper.
It’s an excellent idea to hold a family meeting in which you discuss the sorts of things that matter to you most. In addition to the value of sharing your wisdom, you can also make it more likely that your heirs will handle their inheritance wisely if they understand the motives behind your choices. This is just one of the many reasons to have a family discussion about your estate plan and your legacy.
How to tell your story through your estate plan
It’s a delight to get to hear your elders’ stories of their fondest memories and wildest adventures, as well as the struggles they overcame to get the family where it is today. This wisdom provides connection and meaning for a financial inheritance that otherwise might just be viewed as a windfall. So as part of your estate and legacy planning, I encourage you to record your own personal history. Here are a few ideas:
- Audio files: With the broad range of audio formats available today, you can record in the way that’s easiest for you – anything from a handheld cassette recorder to the Voice Memos app on your iPhone. There are some easy-to-use digitizing services that can compile your stories into audio files to make available to your family and descendants.
- Video files: The same goes for home movies and other video recordings. Older film formats can be easily digitized and organized along with the videos from your phone. Today’s technology also makes it easier than ever to add narration (and context) to a video, making the story all the richer.
- Photo albums: Many families have prized photo collections that catalog generations. It’s a tragedy when something like this is lost in a fire or misplaced in a move. Creating a digital database is a gift to your family in more ways than one: Not only will they have access to these memories at any time, they can also feel secure knowing that these family treasures won’t be lost anytime soon and that multiple copies can be made for the different branches of the family.
- Letters and other writings: If you enjoy writing, you can also include handwritten or typed letters or stories to your family members in your legacy plan to be received and read at the time of your choosing. You can also include past letters and postcards that might be tucked away in the attic. It’s not only a personal delight to relive the memories of the past by reviewing your old letters and postcards, but it’s also a great way for younger generations to get to know and sincerely appreciate your life journey and legacy.
Your financial assets are important. Protecting and planning to pass those assets is a key part of any estate plan. But focusing only on those types of assets leaves a hole for your loved ones and does a disservice to the biggest part of your wealth. Your estate plan becomes exponentially more valuable when it incorporates and showcases your memories, history, and values in a long-lasting way that truly benefits your heirs. And that is really what estate planning should be all about.
Dedicated to empowering your family, building your wealth and securing your legacy,