Legacy Planning…How Estate Planning Should be Viewed
I have practiced in the area of Estate Planning for over 10 years. The reasons why clients create an estate plan vary, but one of the most common connections between clients that I have seen is that they consider it to be me more than just about money and “things”. When we die we leave behind considerably more than cars, houses and cash. We leave behind our religious and political beliefs, our work ethic, our passion for our families, life and businesses…a legacy. These are all things that don’t have a monetary value but we still want to see them “passed” along to family. The ways in which we leave our legacy are much different than how we leave our “things”. You can’t say: I leave to my children the ability to be charitable and honest. You leave these qualities to them by making certain choices that in turn, will teach and show them charitableness and honesty.
It is a moral struggle often times for a parent to determine who they want to raise their children after they are gone. Aside from cloning ourselves, the best that we can do is choose someone with similar values, religious and political beliefs and passions for life. Maybe as a parent your legacy is that your children have learned the value of money and helping others. Perhaps as a parent raising your children with certain religious beliefs is your legacy that you pass. These are all part of ourselves that we leave behind and pass to our children and hopefully our children’s children. How do we do this? We do this by choosing a person who best reflects us as a parent; who can best continue to teach and instill these values on to our children. Passing along a piece of us that is way more valuable than a car or a home.
The same can be said for how a business owner plans the succession of his or her business. This person should have the same business ethics and visions…otherwise, the business left behind would change the legacy intended to be left. If it is a family business these ethics and visions run deep and often times are the foundation of the success of the business.
Estate Planning should involve more than who we leave our money, our car and our home to (the basics of what needs to be considered in a Will or a Living Trust). Money and things will only last so long…our legacy has the potential to last forever.