We all want to be remembered in a meaningful way after we’ve passed away.
Your legacy is an important way to preserve your existence and also to enrich your descendants’ lives with your memory. You may even motivate future generations from the example you set during your lifetime.
Some of us may be lucky enough to leave behind an impressive contribution to inspire others through art, music, medicine or other accomplishments. Yet for most of us, a more modest, personal impression may best suit our needs. With some forethought and planning, you can leave a legacy that inspires and transcends the commonplace.
We found this article adapted from Bart Astor’s book, AARP Roadmap for the Rest of Your Life: Smart Choices About Money, Health, Work, Lifestyle…and Pursuing Your Dreams that discusses this goal. Burt is an expert in life transitions and elder care. His insights include ways to leave an enduring legacy that extend beyond the most typical, such as leaving a financial inheritance or passing on heirlooms through your will.
Burt shares four inspiring ways to leave a meaningful legacy that may resonate as you think about how you want to be remembered after you’ve passed away:
1) Tell your family story
Using genealogy websites to help tell your story and connect it to both past and future family has become a big industry. Specialized genealogy websites like Ancestory.com and Archives.gov allow you to research your family tree, add your own “branch” and make yourself come alive in a way only you can do.
2) Give to charity
There are many creative ways to make financial donations both during your life and after you’ve passed away that reflect your values. You can create a meaningful gift plan to watch loved ones benefit from your giving during your life. You can also create a trust or charitable foundation or endow scholarships to provide regular distributions that make more enduring contributions. Your financial advisor can tell you about many other options.
3) Write a legacy letter
Most of us have memories or thoughts of loved ones that are especially meaningful to us that we haven’t yet expressed. A legacy letter allows you to say all the important things you need or want to share with those that matter most. Make your letter be less about directives and more about how you feel about loved ones, how they have impacted your life, and perhaps even what you hope they may find in their future.
4) Prepare an ethical will
An ethical will is a more expansive version of your legacy letter. It can be done in writing, by recording or on video. It’s a very personal account of your life, beliefs and life lessons. Think of your ethical will as your way of remaining a relevant part of the conversation, long after you’re gone.
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