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What Is Your Legacy?

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Coming from a financial planning firm, you might be expecting that this article is going to be about the technical and tax-savvy transfer of wealth. You may expect that we will address trusts, important estate planning documents, or even asset protection. While these are inarguably important aspects of your legacy, we believe they don’t paint the whole picture.

Your legacy isn’t just the sum of tangible assets you have to give, but the lasting influence of the gifts that you have received and the gifts you give on the people and the world around you. How can you positively impact your loved ones? Your community? The passions and projects that are important to you?

Ultimately, your legacy is the cumulative difference you and your gifts make in the lives you touch and the world you inhabit.

Seen this way, then, it’s easy to see why estate and legacy planning are so important. When crafted and executed with intention, they have the potential to leave a lasting impact long after you’re gone.

Dividing up your financial assets, then, is not just a matter of deciding how much money each child or grandchild will inherit, but what influence you would like to have on them. You can specify these intentions in both your will and with other legacy planning tools such as one or more legacy letters.

The following three prompts will help you begin thinking about and organizing your personal legacy vision:

     1)  Identify who you want to influence.

List the specific people and organizations you want to bless with your gifts. Of course, family may be the obvious place to start (albeit for some, the most complicated). If you are unsure at this juncture, err on the side of adding everyone you think you might want to include. You can always remove a group or individual down the line if you find the intentions for your gifts are unclear or unrealistic.

Example:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Alma Mater
  • Your Favorite Non-Profit

     2)  Consider Your Primary Intention or Motivation

Identify what you want to share with each person or organization on your list.  Is it your family history and lessons learned? A hope for the next generation. Do you want your children to be able to buy a house or start a business? Or to ensure your grandchildren have fully funded 529 college savings plans. Perhaps you want to start a scholarship fund at your Alma Mater to promote women pursuing careers in engineering. Or maybe you want to erect a building to house your favorite non-profits new project. What is it you’d like to share and give to help each recipient?

     3)  Think About the Result

How will your gifts make each recipient feel? Do you trust that your gifts will be used as intended? Of course, there is no guarantee that the influence you intend will come to fruition exactly as planned. While you can rely on legal and personal tools to help outline your wishes, such as your will, trusts, and the legacy letter, be realistic about your expectations. It also helps to speak with your inheritors before passing to relay your intentions in person. A personal conversation may give you a better idea how your gifts will be received.  

The Gift of Influence

Legacy planning can be an overwhelming topic that is often pushed to the bottom of the priority list. But given the strong bearing your gifts can have at large, we encourage you to start today to begin defining a legacy you can feel proud of.

Whether you’ve built a legacy plan that needs some attention or you’re just getting started, the advisors at Northstar are here to help. We know how important the well-being of your loved ones is to you and we understand that won’t change once you are gone. Schedule a complimentary Initial Conversation with one of our advisors today to learn more about our comprehensive wealth management and transition planning services for women and their families in the greater Southern New Hampshire area and abroad.

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