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Legacy Estate Planning [What Does it Really Mean to Leave a Legacy]

Legacy Estate Planning

In the estate planning world, there is always a lot of chatter about “leaving a legacy”. However, like most professional jargon, often people don’t understand what the idea of leaving a legacy or what we like to call, legacy estate planning in Florida, really means at a practical level.

In this article, we will attempt to first unpack the concept of a “legacy” and then will focus on what it means to live and leave a legacy for future generations.

Building a Legacy is About Creating a Life of Significance and Contribution

It goes without saying that a legacy must be built before we can leave one, yet what does this mean?  Often, people relegate this idea to simply leaving estate assets in Florida such as a Florida real estate deed or a Florida family business entity. However, I suggest that the meaning in legacy actually goes much deeper to things like significance, contribution and a clear life purpose.

Significance and contribution are two key aspects of happiness according to self-help guru Tony Robbins.  Tony’s observation relates to the idea of legacy estate planning as it concerns living intentionally and purposefully. In Tony’s view, people have six fundamental needs which are:

 1. Certainty

2. Variety

3. Significance

4. Love (Connection)

5. Growth

6. Contribution

These things are very important to us and whether they are present in our lives can have a huge impact on how we judge ourselves and our well being in general.

Equally important, and a major factor in the above mentioned 6 needs is to locate your unique gifts and values and integrate them into your life purpose and legacy. In his book, Killing Sacred Cows, Garrett Gunderson talks a lot about finding your life purpose and this book is NOT in the self help category but rather is a financial and wealth planning goldmine.  The idea behind finding your life purpose is that you will naturally be more prone to success AND more important, you will become oriented to inspire and leave a legacy for future generations.

Garrett talks about some ways to identify your life purpose, however this is a path that may vary greatly from person to person. For some, coaching and soul search are key whereas others may simply need to take a closer look at current involvements and areas of inspiration. I will leave this process to you for now with the caveat that this should not be considered optional as it is a critical part of living a great life. 

The next step is to apply the idea of living your life purpose to the important process of estate planning in Florida or wherever you are.

What is Legacy Estate Planning

What is Legacy Estate Planning

From the standpoint of personal wellness and growth, it does not work to say things like “I’ll be gone anyway” or “I’m going to spend it all”. There is no default estate plan in Florida, or wherever your state of residence, so a failure to plan really is planning to fail. Legacy estate planning is first therefore a thoughtful and deliberate process.

Most people derive a certain amount of self worth from what we do and how well we do it and estate planning is no exception.

Many people attach a large amount of their self worth to what they do either professionally or as a contributor in another forum such as volunteer work.  After all, what is the first question that most people ask upon meeting someone?  Generally, “what do you do?”, is a way that people evaluate other people.  Whatever our modern human reasons for this mode of evaluation, it is a way to determine someone’s level of contribution and engagement within society.   Even finding out that someone is “retired” carries a level of positive evaluation because it implies that the person must have planned to retire and accomplished that objective successfully and is now living the good life.  Without this aspect of our lives, we can start to wither a bit in terms of our well being. Legacy estate planning brings this underlying belief into the estate planning process.

The Need to Contribute to the Welfare of Others

Most people need to feel that they are contributing to the welfare of others in some way.

Upon retirement, many people go through a time of reevaluation and often times, personal problems arise from the void that is left upon leaving one’s career.  In worse cases, physical illness and depression can arise and thus it is advisable to get involved with groups and pursue volunteer activities to maintain a high level of contribution.

Of course, contribution to our families is also an area where folks derive a great deal of satisfaction.   This contribution can take a number of different forms and in my experience the most common are in terms of leadership (education) and financial guidance.  This is what separates the intentional (and generally wealthier individuals) from passive and unhappy individuals. Contribution is at the core of legacy estate planning.

Putting together a focused legacy estate plan, contributes to the planner’s well being in both of the ways mentioned above. Thus, you could say  that legacy estate planning is essential to our personal well being and growth.

Legacy estate planning is a great forum for older generations to educate and empower the younger generations who need to learn about money management and also offer them resources to give them a start in this regard.  Few things give folks a greater sense of contribution than empowering and educating the younger generations.

The great thing is that this process of educating and empowering loved ones is that the specific emphasis can be totally unique to the individuals doing the planning.  For some, family estate planning meetings are great tools and for others, the estate documents themselves can be instructive and contain admonitions against drug use or creditor concerns.

Legacy estate planning with revocable trusts or irrevocable trusts in Florida can also limit access to funds until younger beneficiaries reach certain ages and this is a way in and of itself for the older generations to contribute to the success of the younger generation through age appropriate access to support.   This is especially important when younger family members have gone astray or appear to need higher levels of guidance because it may be that they are simply delayed and may reach high levels of success later in life.  For more guidance about Florida estate planning for adult children.

The bottom line is that the significance and contribution that one finds in proactively engaging in legacy estate planning provides enormous personal satisfaction.  This is one of a few great ways to find wellness and balance in life by maintaining a commitment to the pursuit of significance and contribution. It is also worth mentioning that estate planning can improve your relationships with loved ones and, in my humble opinion, this is especially true of legacy estate planning.

Steve Gibbs, Esq.

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