While often used interchangeably with estate planning, legacy planning is actually a distinct approach to estate planning. While legacy planning can work hand-in-hand with your comprehensive estate planning strategy, it is important to understand its potential role in your estate plan. While estate planning includes all of your tools and strategies to devise wealth to future generations, Forbes points out that legacy technically means a bequest or gift left to an individual in your Last Will and Testament. They note that legacy planning can be a proactive part of your approach to estate planning by helping you take control of defining and achieving the legacy you wish to leave behind.
Dispelling Common Myths
The article from Forbes sought to dispel some of the common myths surrounding legacy planning. While conversations about estate planning in general are never easy, legacy planning can often carry its own negative connotations. Some of the most common myths surrounding legacy planning include:
- Legacy Planning is for the Wealthy – Often a myth that accompanies estate planning in general, believing that only wealthy or famous people have a legacy to leave behind is a common mistake. The article rightfully points out that every person has a legacy to leave behind regardless of his or her profession in life. The mark each individual is capable of leaving on the world is part of building the legacy you wish to leave behind, but it is important not to look at legacy planning as something to simply leave behind. Instead, you should approach legacy planning by deciding what it is you want to leave as your legacy and then take proactive steps during your life in order to achieve those goals.
- Legacy Planning is Egotistical – The idea of legacy planning can be uncomfortable. Often people feel bad about doing good things only to later tout The ultimate goal of legacy planning is to help you live the best life possible. That includes being happy, healthy, and fulfilled. When you attain those things, and enjoy the various activities you are able to engage in – charitable, economical, spiritual, and other – there is nothing egotistical about celebrating that and preserving your success for your heirs to enjoy.
Ultimately, legacy planning is not about controlling your heirs after you die. Instead, it is a holistic approach to making sure that you seize the opportunities available to you in order to create the kind of assets and wealth that will be a part of your legacy. As the article notes, this is less about control and more about empowering everyone involved in legacy planning – including yourself and the individuals you choose to carry your legacy on.
Approaching Legacy Planning
You must determine what legacy you want to leave behind in order to effectively incorporate legacy planning into your comprehensive estate plan. Three steps that can help you do that are:
- Identify your best self, including the gifts you have to give to the world, and set goals for yourself;
- Create a realistic road map to achieve those goals; and
- Work proactively to navigate the path that best follows your plan.
As you navigate legacy planning, you will likely find a need for an experienced estate planning attorney as well as other experts, like financial planners and accountants, whose services are an important part of creating your legacy. Legacy planning is not about what you leave behind, but instead about the things you do when you are alive in order to create a legacy that you and your heirs can be proud of.