Need Help? Call (303) 333-HELP
The Source Podcast Archive

Advanced Search

Close Search

Legacy Planning – Does your checking account make you who you are?

 By Frank J. Danzo, III Esq.

A will is crucial for ensuring your wishes are respected, but there’s another tool to consider.  A legacy plan puts the focus not only on money and assets, but on your values, morals, traditions and accomplishments. The idea is to let survivors know where you stood and what you were about. In addition to helping folks document practical information that would be appropriate in the aftermath of their death, a legacy plan will also help them document information about who they are and the values and traditions they honor. Here’s how you can help your loved ones honor your memory:

Don’t delay

It’s never too early to put together a legacy plan, something that the Legacy Planning founder himself learned the hard way when his first wife suffered a fatal heart attack at 28. There’s no time like the present – take care of the details now.

Your priorities

Start by making a list of what matters most to you.  When you look back over your life and think of all you learned on this planet, what would you most like to pass on?  Write down, sometimes in letter form, the things that represent who you are and what you care about.  That could mean the charities you contribute to, information about how you’d like funeral services to be handled, the traditions you’d like to see your family carry on and related ideas.

Helpful resources

You could do this on your own, but it might be worth it to enlist the help of a professional. The process can usually be done in a single afternoon, and a legacy planner will walk you through each step so nothing is overlooked.  You’ll probably start by answering some questions, many of which will seem a little random – topics like your favorite childhood memory, or how you met your spouse. By doing this, you’re giving background information to your survivors so they’ll not only know what kind of causes you support, but why. Then you’ll be able to make a journal of vital information, which includes everything from your personal family history to instructions on how you want your children raised and your animals cared for.

Guide for survivors

Putting together a plan not only helps your survivors, it’s also a great chance to remind yourself of your values and priorities. These days, we’re so busy that it’s easy to put it off, and this process is a great opportunity to do it properly.  The process really focuses on allowing people to uncover, through questioning, what they care about, and then they can take actions in their lifetime with their time and money to have their legacy reflect who they are.

Not a will

This is not a will, nor is it a substitute for one. In fact, it isn’t a legal document.  That means even if you put together a legacy plan, you still need an estate plan, including a will, a power of attorney document and a health care proxy. They go hand in hand, but if you don’t have the money or time right now to do it all, the estate plan comes first. Be sure to check it every few years and make necessary changes and updates.

What matters most in your life, more than anything else?

 For many people, the answer is values, family, memories, and traditions—not money.  Relationships to family, friends, and the community are far more important to happiness than more money or more stuff.  Given this fact, it’s no surprise that when economic hard times loom, we tend to spend more time at home, stay connected with family and friends, and reflect on the things in our lives that matter most.

 With this in mind, you should consider “legacy planning.” It is similar to estate planning—but instead of creating a document that shares your possessions of financial value, this document shares your possessions of emotional value. This includes your life lessons, memories, personal values, and final wishes—information that is too valuable to risk being lost.  Our unique legacy planning program, makes legacy planning a satisfying and rewarding experience. It will help you gain clarity and give you confidence that everything you treasure will be passed on to those you love. Imagine the peace of mind you’ll have knowing that instead of unanswered questions, you’ll be leaving behind a meaningful legacy.

 Frank J. Danzo, III

 Chayet & Danzo, LLC