• Shawna Murray, Attorney

Estate Planning Can Show The Real You

Recently I watched a YouTube video on how to make Chicken Parmigiana. It featured an Italian woman, perhaps in her 70s, who has this adorable Italian accent and sweet demeanor. She even sings a bit. After cooking and so on, I continued to think about the video and how much I would have loved to have even one video of my grandmother cooking a family recipe or telling a story. While younger generations now record every moment of their lives, we can all use their example to take the opportunity to share our recipes, advice, and life stories.

When you prepare an estate plan, you are ensuring that you pass on your wealth to your loved ones but it also a great time to consider how you might pass on your values, principles, and legacy. While you are in the estate planning mode, you might consider recording some videos of yourself, writing letters to be included with your estate planning documents, and/or calling a family meeting. It’s a very special way to show the real you and leave a legacy that can be cherished for generations.

Your Rich Life Story

Taking the time to record yourself sharing stories from your life will allow you to create a time capsule of sorts. Like the cooking video I recently watched, your vide can also capture your personality and experiences that shaped you into the person you are today. You can demonstrate a skill that you are proud of, share some of your best recipes, or talk directly to the camera and tell your loved ones about some of your most important life lessons. Whatever you decide to record, your loved ones will be better for it.

Share How You Would Like to be Honored

When you are going through the estate planning process, completing the lengthy questionnaire, and having discussions with your attorney, you need to consider and make some weighty decisions for yourself. For example, you need to consider what you would want to happen if you become mentally incapacitated, need long-term care, or otherwise become so ill that someone else needs to make health decisions for you. While not the sunniest of topics, you can ease the process for your loved ones by discussing your choices with them so they understand your thought process for making those decisions. This way they can be mentally prepared should any of these things ever come to pass.

Your Family Tree

Your family might be curious about more than just your own life story. If you have not taken the time or do not have the inclination to sign-up for one of those genealogy websites, you can still share some of your family tree. You can put together your own family tree the old-fashioned way, i.e., with pen and paper, or you could find old photos of family members and identify them that way. You might also want to take those photos and share some family stories in a video. If you have become a subscriber to a genealogy website, be sure to share your family tree with other family members or leave your log-in information in your estate planning binder. Either route you choose would truly be an excellent gift for generations to come.

Significant Heirlooms

Every family heirloom has a story to tell. It’s common for estate plans to include directions for the distribution of physical objects that matter dearly to their owners, such as heirlooms, jewelry, watches, collections, photos, and memorabilia. Sharing the story of why you hold such items as near and dear to your heart helps keep their story alive.

Your Core Values

An estate plan can also be customized to include specific language that helps pass along your core values, for example, incentives for completing college. Trusts can include provisions for charitable donations or for the special needs of family members with disabilities. With careful planning, you can pass along your core values.

With a little extra effort, you can pass on more than just financial benefits to your loved ones. I encourage you also to take the time to share your values and principles, along with treasured stories from your family and your own life story, because they will be cherished for longer than the money lasts.

I would be honored to help you build your estate plan so you can leave a rich legacy for your loved ones. If you would like a consultation, please call me at 949-416-3575 and we can get started right away!

By the way, the Chicken Parmigiana turned out great! If you liked this blog, please share it with friends and family or like it and share it on Facebook. Thank you!

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