In estate planning, the term legacy is often used because legacy means that you will be remembered long after you die. Often when we think of legacy, we can think of examples of public legacies like some of the nominees of the ten greatest Canadians: Pierre Trudeau, Alexander Graham Bell, Sir John A MacDonald, Frederick Banting, Wayne Gretzky, Don Cherry, David Suzuki, Lester B Pearson, Terry Fox and Tommy Douglas.
As great as these individuals are, I believe everyone has a legacy to leave. We all have stories to tell. We all live a life of good memories. We all have an audience that wants to hear.
The gift of family
When you think of your ancestors, do you wish you knew more about parents, grandparents, great grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc? They all had legacies to leave, but few of them diarized their legacies properly. We've all heard of time capsules, photo albums, scrap books, etc. These are all examples of efforts to create memories and personal legacies.
One of the most important things to value is family. Knowing their history adds a significant dimension to your own life. We all wish we knew more about our family history so take that thought and consider that you have the opportunity to set precedence for the future. Many people today are searching for knowledge about the past and especially about the history of their families. Unfortunately, it is usually after the death of a loved one that families realize how much history has been lost. It is then that families wished they diarized the stories and memories in a formal way.
Today, my story is not about me but rather a story about my mother. My mother passed away 5 months before my son was born. My son never got the opportunity to meet his grandmother and that saddens me. When my mother died, I wanted to make sure that my children and their children and their children's children know something about this woman. If I used my mother's name, most people in this country would have never heard about her. She has no public legacy. For her, that would not matter. For my mother, I want to make sure she has a personal legacy with her family.
When my mother passed away, I mourned by putting together a book about the story of her life using stories, pictures, and articles. Every year, I continue to add to this book and this is not only my gift to her but also my gift to her family and my gift to my kids, grandkids, great grandkids, etc. I, too, wish that my mother were here to ask some questions to fill in the blanks. I hope I do my mother's life justice.
You have the opportunity to set the precedence for the future
If you wish that you knew more about your ancestors, then it is pretty likely that your kids and grandkids will also want to know more about your life. Generations to come will treasure your memories and your stories.
Take the time to diarize the stories of your life. You might laugh or cry, chuckle or shed a tear as you try to remember the stories. Whatever the case, a legacy of memories is far more valuable than any financial gifts. A gift of memories ignites imagination and fosters communication among families. This should be the cornerstone of estate planning. It is these stories that weave generations together. No amount of money can weave generations together like a legacy of memories.
Take a piece of paper and start writing the stories of your life. Take a video camera and start recording. Take a tape recorder and start dictating. These words, videos, or recordings could be the best gift you give because it will be your personal legacy. I guarantee future generations will treasure your gift.
If you are not that creative, I recommend you look at my program www.MyLegacyOrganizer.com which asks over 1000 questions to help you write your stories and more importantly your legacy. With the Christmas season around the corner, this could be the best gift you can give to your parents or grandparents.
In the end, estate planning is really about preserving memories from the past and preserving financial security for the future. Life is not just the passing of time – life is the collection of experiences. It is about communication. Take the time to connect with your families… before it is too late!