Before we talk about how to begin a legacy plan we first need to understand what it is. A legacy plan is a conscientiously designed plan that goes deeper than the traditional estate planning, which will incorporate not only the accumulated family wealth but also the values and goals that made the wealth possible. Those values can be passed on assisting your family on how best to utilize the wealth, preserve it, and influence positively your family for generations to come.
The process of legacy planning focuses on three areas:
- Personal Capital (the relationships we’ve developed)
- Academic Capital (gained knowledge, our imagination & creativity)
- Financial Capital (our tangible assets & wealth)
The plan development is meant to encourage and uphold the family values and goals making the family stronger well into the future.
The most important first step in the planning process is a meeting (the discovery stage) with the patriarch & matriarch of the family; in other words the husband & wife who are responsible for the accumulated financial capital. This first meeting should be led by a professional person capable of instituting your legacy plan.
During this meeting it is very important that your values, hopes & desires as well as concerns are articulated so that recommendations from the professional later on, convey your needs. This discovery stage is best located where the family leaders feel comfortable & safe, generally their home, so that the feelings expressed on family values, how to use the money, and concerns are open and honest.
At the end of the discovery stage the following questions should be answered:
- What’s important to you about your wealth? Providing financial security or allowing pursuit of a specific passion?
- What do you want for your children and grandchildren? Beyond “things”, what values do you want your heirs to typify?
- Do you want to be remembered by your local charity, faith based church, or alma mater?
Once all of the information is collected your professional adviser will set a second meeting where he/she will recommend the financial vehicles best suited for you to facilitate your goals. Depending on the product(s) you choose there are many options that will not only convey your values & goals but also, may offer additional living benefits to protect your family.
Having a legacy plan in place is the single most important first step you can take in creating lasting values and wealth to your heirs while protecting your assets. The financial vehicles you choose in your legacy plan can become part of your living trust which will help to avoid the emotional issues that will arise from administrating your estate. Your planning will give you the peace of mind knowing your legacy and heirs will exemplify the values & goals you worked so hard to obtain and develop.