What Type of Legacy Do You Want To Leave

With Memorial Day comes parades, family barbecues, and the kickoff to the summer season.

However, it’s important that we never lose sight of the day’s significance.  Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in our country’s armed forces. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

The sacrifices these brave men and women made for our country can never be overstated, and their legacy they left behind allows us to enjoy the freedoms and opporunities we have today.

As we honor our fallen heroes, it’s also a good time to consider the type of legacy you’d like to leave for those most important to you.  It can be a touchy subject as most do not want to talk about their mortality and may not be comfortable disclosing their financials to their children or heirs.  It takes some courage to address, however will be well worth it in the long-run.

A few tips to get started:

  1. Make sure that your own needs are being met first.

When most commercial airliners take off, the flight attendant goes over the emergency procedures. If the cabin loses pressure and the oxygen masks pop out of the ceiling, we are instructed to secure our own mask and start to breathe normally BEFORE we help someone else with their mask. The point here is that you can’t properly help someone else until you’ve seen to your own needs first.

Your own health care and long-term living expenses must be provided for first, and even then, you must be cautious before committing certain assets or dollar figures to heirs. It is entirely possible that your own longevity or health care needs could exceed what you predict.

The greatest gift you can give your children is your own independence:  Some ways to do this include:

  • Utilizing investments outside of the stock market
  • Diversifiying into other asset classes
  • Not waiting unitl retirement to create cash flow through investments
  • Owning one or more homes to build equity in real estate assets
  • Utilizing permanent life insurance that has cash value which can be borrowed against
  1. Strive to be a prosperous role model and leave a legacy of financial self-confidence.

The time to start teaching a sense of fiscal responsibility is when your kids are still young. (If they are grown, “now” is the next best time!)

Some ways to include your children in your financial life may be:

  • Give children a role in planning for family vacations, schooling, or other expenses.
  • Have regular occasional meetings about the household budget, involving the whole family in an awareness of how much things cost and how they can participate (for instance, by working together to manage utility costs.)
  • Share what you learn as you go about managing your savings and investments, creating cash flow, buying properties, or growing a business.
  • Consider using one or more whole life policies as a “family bank.” Family members can assist in determining the criteria for family loans, and can use such an instrument themselves to purchase their own cars, pay for graduate school, or start a business.
  1. Last but not least, don’t delay!

Too many people think they have “all the time in the world,” when the opposite might be true. Others think they don’t need to do “estate planning” because their assets are modest. Still others simply procrastinate, even when they know they “should” address their legacy now.

Legacy planning is the opposite of depressing or morbid – it’s an opportunity for you to

  • Plan how you will give to those who matter most to you
  • Support charities and non-profits that represent your values

Enjoy peace of mind, knowing that this important matter is handled.


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