Once you get into the process of developing your estate plan, it can be easy to be consumed by making sure that you’ve accounted for all of your assets and put the right documents in place to leave them to your heirs and beneficiaries. It can be a complicated process governed by numerous laws. That’s why having an estate planning attorney guiding you through the process is so important.
However, you don’t want your family’s memories of you to be centered on that hefty sum of money, the vacation home on the Gulf Coast or even the coveted classic car you left them. You can leave your heirs memories of things that happened in your life – joyful and tragic — that made you who you are.
Your “master stories”
That’s what one Jewish theologian called the events in our lives that shape us. You can write them down, record them on video or memorialize them in whatever way you choose.
Your master stories can include things like how you met your spouse, how you got into the profession you did, your time serving in a war zone or even the day you met your favorite entertainer, politician or sports star. You can include stories about when you were at your darkest points and what kept you going.
Your family heritage
Don’t let your ancestry be lost with you. If you’re the oldest in your family, you likely know more about where your ancestors came from than anyone. A site like Ancestry.com can provide you access to hand-written census documents, induction notices, ship manifests, old newspaper articles and more. Leaving something as simple as a family tree can mean a lot to your loved ones. You’ll probably learn a lot yourself.
These are just two potential components of legacy planning. Remember that it’s not just for the loved ones you leave behind but for future generations – and possibly even for historians as they look back on the 20th and 21st centuries.