Not Just For Baby Boomers – Legacy & Estate Planning Basics

Take a few moments and ponder this: If you could open a portal and ask three questions of a deceased ancestor, what three questions would you ask? Why were these questions the ones that you choose? If you were visited by one your future decedents what three questions do you think they would ask you? The success of sites like Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com proofs our culture’s desire to understand their relationship to their ancestors – but the question remains, are people just looking for names and pictures? When you discover a few short news headlines and census records will all your questions have been answered, will your quest be complete?

Through conversations with advisors, clients and observations throughout history I have learned that the stories are what people cherish. Every person has a story – therefore every person has a legacy. Still don’t believe you have a legacy to share?

Merriam-Webster online states that the word Legacy is a noun and means: something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past. So we know that you have a story and we also now know that if you pass that story on – you are passing on Your Legacy. Quite simply, Legacy Planning is the thoughtful process that organizes and preserves you and your stories for future generations. Those that are seeking to live purposeful lives will find Legacy Planning and Estate Planning can be combined to guide and direct future generations while also helping you preserve your hard-earned assets and ensure that they go where you want them to go after you pass on.

By purposefully plotting your generational impact you can save your family and heirs considerable time, expense and potential grief by eliminating uncertainty about inheritance and sharing valuable life lesson. In the legacy planning process you are given an opportunity to teach and offer hard-earned life experiences that helped shape your life and guide your destiny. The old saying, “If you give a person a fish you feed them for a day, but if you teach a person to fish they can eat for a lifetime,” is a common theme drawn upon daily by many successful clients who worry about the well-being and preparedness of their future generations.

There are numerous studies that show those who have written plans outperform those who do not. Take a moment and contemplate the effect this principle can have when applied across generations. Planning and productivity leader Michael Hyatt astutely observes, “I have met few people who have a plan for their lives.” How many families do you know who have a written 100-Year Plan agreed too and actively in place? Fifty-seven percent of Americans do not have a will. Unless you would like to potentially donate a substantial portion of your estate to Uncle Sam, it is time to join the forty-one percent who do. Though writing a will, or the appropriate instrument recommended by your advisor, may not be fun to think about, a little foresight now will save your heirs and loved ones enormous hassles down the road. The planning process of collecting thoughts, stories, ideas and traditions together will prove rewarding and inspire many new thoughts and possibilities.

In this series on Legacy & Estate Planning Basics you will learn to:

o Identify Generativity in yourself and other and steps to increase it;
o Implement the 4 Basic Building Blocks of a Strategic Legacy Plan;
o Understand the basics of wills, trusts, probate, legacy statements, and charitable giving;
o Set up a power of attorney, a living will, and long-term care arrangement; and
o Minimize the impact of estate and inheritance taxes on your heirs.

Warren Buffet, famed investor and head of Berkshire-Hathaway has drawn much attention and praise for his comments regarding his own children’s inheritance, “The perfect amount of money to leave children is enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.” In Buffet’s case that amount has been reportedly, $10 million. Buffet’s attitude of empowering the next generation without stifling their drive to create, contribute and self-direct has been embraced by the middle class, young professionals and baby boomers alike. The objective is to avoid the ancient adage, “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” Only by planning your legacy and your estate now can you be sure that all your wishes will be known and respected when you pass away.  *****

Respectfully submitted by: Donald L. West, Jr., J.D., CLTP
Assoc. Dir. of Education / Chartered Legacy & Trust Planner
The American Institute of Legacy & Estate Planning

Don is available to assist with your Legacy & Estate Planning journey, have a question or need assistance – just ask.

dlw@Legacy-Institute.org
http://www.Legacy-Institute.org

About the Author: Don West, Jr. serves as a Personne De Confiance and counsels families, individuals and entities on the principles of generational legacy and wealth transfer as the Associate Director of Education at The American Institute of Legacy & Estate Planning. Don utilizes a planning philosophy of teaching “Healthy & Sustained Multi-Generational Family Prosperity” focused on increasing Generativity – guiding the next generation and building strong Families of Affinity. Don is the creator of ‘The Legacy Pyramid’ and teaches that “Every Life Is A Legacy”.

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