Crafting Your Family Legacy

It is hard to say goodbye – but what makes the grieving process more tolerable is nurturing your family’s well-being even after you leave this life. This is precisely why creating a family legacy is considered a best practice for generational financial wellness. Let them praise your memory for thoughtful planning.

Since our days are numbered, not knowing when our last breath will be, measurable action taken now supports long-term planning for your loved ones and generations which follow. Not only will vulnerable children feel more secure with what’s bestowed upon them, but they will also benefit from your planning process leading to the fulfillment of their own long-term goals, just as you are now aspiring to fulfill yours.


is a Family Legacy?

To the surprise of many, a family legacy goes well beyond the passed-down inheritance. Rather, it’s a combination of the physical, emotional, and spiritual values that surround the assets accumulated throughout generations.

Standard pieces in a family legacy include:

  • Wealth and assets such as real estate, businesses, savings, etc.
  • Sentimental items, including heirlooms, photos, etc.
  • Your value and mission, often as written documents or recordings
  • Important family traditions

Change is inevitable – so help your family plan for all market conditions and bumps in the road. Remember, a family legacy not only keeps your family together but also allows your guidance to have more lasting impact.


Getting Started

Gather and organize: start by developing an accurate list of all assets. In this stage, look over both tangible and intangible items and put them in one place. It is a great idea to create recordings and videos addressing offspring while still healthy and energetic. 

Look at this documentation as educating family members: write letters or notes explaining action plans if you are not privy to technology. Understanding WHY you have crafted overall goals may help loved ones to appreciate, understand and adhere to short-term planning and longer-term strategies. 

Set aside funds: Meanwhile, go over wealth/assets and set aside a chunk of funds to cover the expenses that may occur during the final stages of life – reducing stress for loved ones. The funds set aside might typically cover uninsured medical expenses, assisted living expenses, and funeral expenses. Many also write down the details regarding how they’d like to be “sent off” from this world.  Such planning of final arrangements can be an enormous emotional relief for family members at what is otherwise a stress-filled time.


Develop a Long-Term Mindset

We understand: the conversation about death and heritage is not pleasant for most. And if you’re mid-life, the entire idea of leaving a family legacy might sound like a far stretch.

However, it is never too early to plan for your family — even if you haven’t finished building your family yet. So, instead of waiting until it’s too late, develop a long-term mindset the moment you begin financial planning. A financial planner will help you consider all aspects of your family legacy. 


Multi-generational Effects of a Family Legacy

Know that a family legacy affects more than one generation. A solid legacy will continue to impact future generations, from your own direct descendants to unborn babies which might be decades down the road.

A great example would be the Buffett family and their monetary empire. Of course, most of us will not accumulate that amount of wealth within our lifetimes; however, these superfamilies serve as helpful references.

For instance, leaving large amounts of cash behind may be less preferable compared to leaving profitable investments to your offspring. With today’s market rapidly changing, you must consider what may happen to the value of what you leave behind years down the road.


Finding Your Financial Priorities

Therefore, we must understand our financial priorities when planning a family legacy. No one can tackle all aspects simultaneously, especially if time is foreseeably running thin. 

First, understand what urgent expenses must be covered to relieve your family from potential financial burdens and “fire-drill” decisions. Then, try to leave resources and assets that can help them prosper in the future.


Retirement Planning

You might wonder: how does retirement planning fall into legacy planning? First, retirement planning may cover final life stage expenses. Second, if you don’t exhaust your retirement savings and investments, those assets naturally go into your legacy.  You may even want to do some of your legacy planning in such a way that you enhance retirement plan for the follow-on generation.  Imagine how you might have liked to have a trust that began distributing income around the time you were retiring.


College Savings

Are your kids and grandkids growing up? It would be wise to save for their education now, so they don’t come out of college with astronomical student loans. There are many ways you can help your children and grandchildren with education, such as setting up a trust fund or creating an education savings account.


Medical Expense

Medical expenses are almost inevitable when we near our transition. While it may be hard to predict how much or little our healthcare may cost towards the end, it’s a good idea to prioritize setting a decent amount aside for emergencies.  Some people coordinate a Health Savings Account (if they are eligible for one) around this goal of defraying end-of-life expenses.


Funeral Expenses

Planning your funeral while you are alive might feel uncomfortable, but it is necessary and wise. Plus, you probably want to exit this world in a preferred “sending off.” So, while setting funeral expenses aside, write out detailed instructions, such as “burial” methods, ceremony wishes, and even a tentative guest list.


Charities and Foundations

Many choose to incorporate charity giving into their legacy plan. It’s always good to keep memories alive by bringing some good into the world. But realistically, charities and foundations are also beneficial to our families.

Giving your values and moral goals a chance to live beyond your own lifetime with children and grandchildren creates a lasting legacy.


Protect Your Loved Ones Beyond Your Time

Eventually, many other things go into a well-developed legacy plan, and a simple will is insufficient in many cases. Therefore, it is best to work with someone specializing in estate planning and legacy planning.

It is also crucial that you start collecting pieces for your legacy now. Document significant moments in your life, and begin writing out your mission, family history, and other things you want to pass down.

We can all agree we live in a world full of uncertainties. That is why creating a family legacy is more valuable and impactful than ever. Don’t leave your loved ones with nothing more than gloom and sadness. Instead, help them fan your flame as they prosper. Your guidance, value, and memory can stay ignited for ages. 

Connect now to schedule your no-obligation appointment to get started.


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Heidi Davis, CPA/PFS, CFP®

Heidi Davis, CPA/PFS, CFP®

Heidi Davis is a Managing Director and Senior Wealth Advisor at Linscomb & Williams.

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Investment Advisory Services are offered by Linscomb & Williams, an SEC registered investment adviser, and a subsidiary of Cadence Bank. Linscomb & Williams (L&W) provides financial planning, investment management, and retirement plan and investment consulting services. L&W is not an accounting firm, and does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice.

Information expressed herein is based upon opinions and views of L&W and information obtained from third-party sources that Linscomb & Williams believes to be reliable, but Linscomb & Williams makes no representation or warranty with respect to the accuracy or completeness of such information. All opinions and views constitute our judgments as of the date of writing and are subject to change at any time without notice.