There comes a time in everyone’s life when they begin considering the kind of legacy they want to leave behind for the generations of the future. How you can continue to provide for your family and the causes you care about after you have passed on is something you may think about often, or maybe you have never thought about it before. Whatever stage of life you are in, it is never too early to start thinking about legacy planning.
What is legacy planning?
Legacy Planning Overview
Legacy planning is the process by which a person decides how they wish to distribute their assets after their death. Whether you would like your assets distributed to specific people, or a cause that is special to you, this is something that should be considered during your lifetime. If you do not decide while you’re living how you want your assets distributed, their management may not be in line with what you would have wanted.
Often, legacy planning begins with the people closest to you and then expands from there. After deciding what sort of legacy you want to leave, you think about what necessities your loved ones will require and what opportunities you want to provide for them. After taking care of the people closest to you, you may begin to think about what you want your legacy to the rest of the world to be; how will you leave the world a better place?
What is the difference between legacy and estate planning?
Legacy planning and estate planning are two closely related terms. However, legacy planning encompasses much more than estate planning, because it focuses on the values behind the inheritance. While legacy planning does include the distribution of your assets, it also has a strong focus on your values and how they apply to the dispersion of your wealth. It is much less focused on how much money you leave to somebody, but more about the feelings that person has when they think about you.
Determining your values and the legacy you want to leave
This is the most important step in the legacy planning process. Before you start thinking about who your heirs are going to be and what each person or organization is going to get, you should have a firm idea of what you value most and the kind of legacy you want to leave. This can help ease the decision-making process later on, because you already know what core principles are guiding every decision. This is the step in the process when you can ask yourself questions like, what do you want your descendants to think when they hear your name? What do you want your descendants to always have access to, and what kind of opportunities should they have? What do you think is needed to make the world a better place? Questions like these can help guide you and get you thinking about your values and what you would like your wealth to go towards. It can help put meaning behind your assets and attach them to your legacy.
Once you have your values written down or in mind, you begin gathering information. List out every single one of your assets and where you keep them all. During this stage, you may naturally begin thinking about where you want your assets to go.
Deciding where your assets go
You have your values. You know all that you own. Now it’s time to begin planning where all of those things are going. You may want to write out a list of the people and organizations that mean the most to you and rank them in order of importance. This can be done in tiers; for example, your children may be in your first tier, your siblings in the next. After you have your beneficiaries in order, then you can decide who is getting what, when they are getting it, and how they will receive it.
While a financial advisor is helpful in every part of the legacy planning process, this particular section is where they can be invaluable. They can assist you in financial planning meetings with your family members, help set up future donations to charity, and discuss relevant tax considerations.
What legacy do you want to leave?
Each day, you choose to live your life in line with your unique values. How do you want those values to be passed on and supported when you’re no longer here? To set up a legacy planning appointment with our one of our financial advisors in Charleston, SC, contact Morris Financial Concepts. We look forward to speaking with you!
The opinions expressed herein are those of Morris Financial Concepts, Inc. (“MFC”) and are subject to change without notice. This material is for informational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. MFC is an independent investment adviser registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about MFC including our investment strategies, fees and objectives can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available upon request. MFC-19-24.