What comes to mind when you think about leaving a legacy for your family? Is it an inheritance? Family heirlooms? Or long passed down stories from previous generations? As a parent, you will pass on an inheritance of some kind to your kids and grandkids. But the type of inheritance, though, depends on you.
As you ponder these thoughts, perhaps think about what you want people to say about you when you’re gone. Or what kind of story your life writing that will be left for generations to come. For a legacy is much more than a monetary inheritance.
What we pass along to them might have an impact not only on their lives but also the lives of their children and grandchildren. Here are some steps to consider when you are thinking about leaving a legacy for your family.
Think about it. What do you care about the most? When people hear your name what do you want them to associate it with once you’re gone? Write the answers on a piece of paper so that you can clearly see what you have to work with. Just having ideas floating around in your head isn’t enough. When you see the words on paper you can begin to think about the meaning and what is realistic and what is not. This will help you move forward.
Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to leave a legacy. Doing good deeds and committing your time to a cause that is important to you is a wonderful way to be remembered. The work you do as a volunteer could leave a legacy for your kids and grandchildren and everyone else throughout your community.
Spend time with your family making memories. If you want your family to remember you, spend time with them, and not just on special occasions. Plan regular visits or activities that everyone can enjoy. Sprinkle some pearls of wisdom during your visits; lessons and values that you want them to remember and incorporate into their own daily lives. Teach children about your mistakes so that they can learn from them and avoid making them. This will ensure you leave an unforgettable legacy.
What items does your family consider valuable? An item, like a simple book, that you may consider worthless and would throw away without thinking twice, may hold special value for someone in your family. In order to leave a legacy free of family arguments and angst, talk with your family about the items they would like to have when you’re gone. While family heirlooms and jewelry are usually at the top of the list, there are also simple items that may hold sentimental value. You want to try to make sure everyone will get at least one thing that truly holds meaning in their hearts.
Discuss money ahead of time. This is a big one as it can often lead to arguments and harsh words. If you do have money or assets you plan on leaving, decide how you’re going to divide them up and have a family discussion so that there are no hard feelings down the road. Even if everyone may not agree or be happy with your decision, it’s better to have the discussion now than at a time when everyone is grieving and emotions are running high.
Don’t wait until tomorrow to begin really thinking about your legacy. Start now so that you have time to accomplish the things you want and have meaningful discussions with your family.