Crafting Your Legacy Letter: More Than Just Assets
When considering estate planning, the focus naturally gravitates towards assets—material wealth, properties, and other valuables. However, a life lived is more than just its tangible components. Beyond divvying up assets, a Legacy Letter—or even a Legacy Video—offers a way to impart emotional and intellectual inheritances, such as wisdom, values, and personal anecdotes.
The Significance of a Legacy Letter
A Legacy Letter acts as a supplemental element to your official estate documents. Though not legally binding like a Will or Trust, it is a heartfelt message that can be discovered by your loved ones after your passing. I’ve seen cases where a simple story, like the location of a grandfather’s first fishing trip, has transformed a mundane lake into a cherished family heritage site. In other cases, the sharing of a serendipitous encounter that redirected a family’s path has had repercussions that span generations. These shared histories become the tapestry that makes your family unique.
Prompting Your Legacy Narrative
If you’re unsure where to start, consider the following writing or video prompts. These can be adjusted to fit your life and what you deem important:
- What have I learned from my parents or grandparents?
- What valuable advice have I received?
- What essential advice would I like to give to my grandchildren?
Sharing My Personal Story:
- What is the significance of my faith?
- What am I most grateful for?
- What life-changing events have shaped me?
- What does wealth mean to me?
- What are my concerns about transferring my material wealth?
Community and Achievements:
- What accomplishments am I most proud of?
- How has my definition of success evolved?
- What legacy do I wish to leave in my community?
Including Your Legacy Letter in Your Estate Plan
While it’s not a formal part of your Will or Trust, a Legacy Letter—or Legacy Video—serves as a meaningful supplement. By sharing your experiences, lessons, and values, you offer a different kind of wealth that can be equally impactful. Consult your estate planner about including this invaluable element in your estate package.
In the Hebrew tradition, there is a saying, “L’dor V’dor,” which translates to “From Generation to Generation.” In a similar spirit, a Legacy Letter provides an avenue to pass down not just your material wealth, but your experiential wealth—your stories, wisdom, values, and dreams—from one generation to the next. So don’t let your life’s story be forgotten; enrich your estate plan with a Legacy Letter and leave a holistic legacy that resonates beyond the material.