Preparing Your Legacy
For a senior to properly plan their legacy, there is so much more involved than merely planning for a secure a comfortable retirement. Sure, to be in a position to financially take care of yourself and pass an inheritance on to your children and grandchildren is noble, but seniors are so much more than a dollar sign, an annuity or a college plan.
Leaving a legacy means leaving memories…and those memories leave an impact. So as I prepare to talk about leaving a legacy, I am going to divide the topic into two parts.
First, I will discuss how seniors can prepare their financial legacy, so that the hard work and labor they put together over the course of their lives can benefit those they love.
But then I will shift focus and start to talk about leaving a legacy that cannot be measured by a dollar sign. I am going to talk about the little things that can be done to leave a mark…the intangibles…that will affect the lives of your descendants as much as any monetary award can.
Preparing Your Financial Legacy
Planning for retirement is more than just planning on how to spend your money. The choices you make now may allow you to provide for your family’s needs even after you are gone. Here are three helpful tips as you put together your financial legacy…
Create A Will
A will can help your heirs avoid unnecessary probate court costs. It’s a good idea to review your will every few years or when you experience a significant life change or financial change.
Keep Your Family Informed
Be sure your spouse and children know what to do if something were to happen to you, including…
- Where to find wills, health care proxies and any power of attorney you have on file
- Where to find life insurance policies, investment accounts, IRA’s, retirement plans, property deeds, annuities, savings bonds and pension information
- Details about any investments
- Which assets to use first
- Where to go for help (who are your lawyers and financial advisors)
Check Your Beneficiary Designations
If you pass away before your account is fully paid out, any accounts you have will rely on the most recently filed and properly completed copy of your beneficiary information. As with a will, it’s a good idea to review your beneficiary designation every few years or when you experience a significant life change or financial change.
This is especially true if your marital status changes. In this way, you can ensure any remaining account balance would pass to beneficiaries you consider the most appropriate.
It is important to know that other documents, such as your will, do not override your beneficiary designation. You should also carefully select contingent beneficiaries in the event your primary beneficiaries pre-decease you.
How To Leave Memories
As I said above, you are so much more than a dollar sign. And while it is important to many to help their descendants monetarily, it is equally important for your love ones to remember you for more than just an annuity or college fund.
Now, the ideas below certainly are not all-inclusive. These aren’t the only ways that you can leave memories for your descendants to remember you by. But view them as a “memory jogger” to see what you can do, what special skills you may have, to leave a legacy in a similar fashion.
It has been said that a life worth living is a life worth recording. So, to that end, why don’t you take the time to start a journal. It can be something as simple as a notepad that catalogs your thoughts and ideas, as well as serving as a diary of what has been happening in your life.
I personally use a journal as a means for me to improve myself, recording notes and ideas that I go back to over and over.
But there are many ways to do this.
For example, there are baby journals that allow you to record your thoughts, dreams and pictures for a newborns 1st few years. Why not leave a book like this to your grandchild, for them to read on their 18th birthday. It can record, via your writing and pictures, all of the events of their life that they will be too young to remember, but in your own special way you will be able to allow them to see what happened when they were young…as well as leaving a lasting legacy of yourself as well.
Part 2 of leaving a legacy is your pictures. Through our pictures we see the march of time as we all get a little older, but the purpose of the pictures is not for us to feel embarrassed about the styles we were wearing at the time, but to be proud of the person we were back then.
That is a huge part of the legacy you can leave your descendants, by accurately recording the person you were and the events you participated in, especially if it those events are with your grandchildren.
Are you an artist? Like to paint? Draw? Into pottery? Well, if you are then you have the opportunity for your artwork to be a lasting legacy for succeeding generations.
One of Dad’s keepsakes that I have already called “dibs” on are two pieces of art he drew in 1956. One of these, a pencil drawing of a horse and a girl, I consider a family treasure. That is a piece of art that I can only hope gets passed down from generation to generation, so that hundreds of years from now that piece is still hanging on the wall of my descendants house.
And you don’t need to do this just with art. Do you work with wood? Metal? Pottery? Clay? Any of these could be a medium for you to leave that type of legacy. It is solely up to you.
About the author:
Tony Rovere became an unprepared caregiver after his mother’s heart attack forced him to navigate the myriad resources of charities and government assistance that are out there. His website, StuffSeniorsNeed.com, is a resource for caregivers as it lists all of the resources and sources of assistance he has compiled over the last 3 years.