Have You Written Your ‘Legacy Letter’ Yet?

When you think about leaving a legacy for future generations, does your mind automatically associate this idea with financial assets? It’s normal to want to put an estate plan in place that will benefit your heirs, but you may want to think outside the box, too.

Why? Well, there are some things that money just can’t buy.

In truth, your legacy is about much more than just your hard-earned assets. You have a wealth of life experience and wisdom to share, too. A great vehicle for preserving this intangible type of asset is a Legacy Letter.

Why Legacy Letters Matter

A Legacy Letter is a meaningful way to preserve your legacy through sharing life lessons, cherished family memories, your values and your hopes for the future. It offers a vehicle to record the things that are important to you so that you can leave your children and grandchildren with more than money in the bank.

Now, a Legacy Letter should not be confused with a will; it isn’t a way to assign assets. It’s different from family history, too, though it may include things you learned from your ancestors that helped you to build a successful and fulfilling life. A Legacy Letter should be viewed as a way to remind those that come after you of things they should be mindful of in creating meaning in their lives, especially through things that money can’t buy.

A Legacy Letter is a flexible document, too. It’s all about you and what you most want to preserve for your loved ones. It can certainly be typed up or written by hand, but it can also take the form of an audio file or a video. Choose the channel – or combination of channels – that feels most appropriate for the message you want to share.

What to Include

It’s natural to second-guess yourself as you begin thinking about what your children and grandchildren would want to know from you. After all, the world has changed in significant ways since you were their age. However, your heirs are still likely to confront many of the same life challenges: feeling stuck in an unfulfilling job, wondering how much financial assistance to give their grown children, navigating the temptation to keep up with the Joneses versus saving for retirement and more.

In challenging moments like these, real-life advice about sticking to your values instead of throwing money at your problems can provide a valuable road-map for your family members. Your guidance may very well help lead them to better decisions as they work to build meaningful lives. You can even choose to share information about charitable causes you chose to support throughout your life or in your estate plan, possibly inspiring a family tradition of giving back.

When to Start Writing

As with anything else in estate planning, the best advice is to begin right now. Unfortunately, we never know what the next day, week or month may bring and it’s important to plan ahead to share your most important asset: your values.

Retirement is a natural time to begin writing a Legacy Letter, but it can be valuable to begin much earlier, too. Some people choose to write Legacy Letters at significant times in their lives, such as when they get married, have a child or land their dream job. Remember, you can always update the letter in the future, so memorializing your thoughts during big life events still leaves room for sharing additional life experiences down the road.

Many people say that the most challenging aspect of writing a Legacy Letter is getting started. If you’re struggling, consider the most meaningful stories and experiences of your life, then determine which of your values they illustrate. This can be a great way to outline all the things you wish to share in your letter.

Preserving your legacy is about more than financial planning, and your Legacy Letter is bound to serve as a source of comfort and guidance to your heirs in the future. If you’re in need of assistance in writing yours, please reach out today so that we can begin a conversation about preserving your life’s true meaning for the people you care about most.

Paces Ferry Wealth Advisors, LLC is a registered investment advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).  This material is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal or tax advice and is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified attorney or tax advisor.

Zachary Morris

Zachary Morris, CFP®

Having traveled to over 35 countries, Zach is a believer in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s statement that Life is about the journey, not the destination. Being a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ provides Zach the opportunity to help clients define and realize their journey, and co-founding Paces Ferry Wealth Advisors, an independent firm, allows the freedom to define the client experience along the way.