A legacy is the impact you make on those who outlive you. Sometimes a legacy includes a gift, or an inheritance (money, property, a family business), but it is not limited to finance or monetary possessions. A legacy is your way of leaving your mark on the world and leaving the world a better place. Many describe leaving a legacy as a ripple. When you throw a rock into a lake and watch the rings concentrically emanate outward from the initial splash even though the rock has now disappeared — this is like a legacy. You leave your mark and it continues to flow outward to the present and next generations after you have passed away. We all have a wonderful opportunity to leave a lasting legacy on those we love. Thinking this way helps you to truly assess your values and to live for a purpose that is bigger than yourself. You get the pleasure of intentionally deciding how you will leave your mark on the world around you in regards to both your values and your wealth.
A legacy includes all you have to offer the world, which includes your wealth, wisdom, values, resources, and passions and talents. My Grandmother recently passed away and well she might not have had much to leave to her family in terms of finances or inheritance, however she did leave a lasting legacy on her children and grandchildren. The legacy she left was one of spiritual faith, a love for family, a celebration of art and creativity, and a care for the earth and growing your own food to eat. In addition to that she left me a few meaningful items from her home that serve as a fond memory of times spent with her at her house. My Grandmother passed on her values of family traditions that we still carry on in our house with my children today and these traditions I hope will continue to be passed down to their future generations. The seed was planted in me to truly enjoy the hard work of gardening and to enjoy the process of gathering the food together, harvesting it and then preparing our dinner together. And now I am passing on that love to my children. What values and lasting memories do you want to leave when you are gone?
A character will, or legacy will is something that Tim Goodwin, Goodwin Investment Avisory’s President and Founder, has been working on for years and highly recommends. In his character will, he has composed a comprehensive list of the things he wants to pass on and instill in those he loves. These include family recipes, quotes, favorite bible verses to read when going through specific circumstances, and giving nicknames to people because it makes life more fun. He has a list of life principles such as, “experience trumps facts,” and concepts of goal setting which includes creating S.M.A.R.T. goals. He also has a list of the Goodwin Family’s core values, which include, be loving, be a blessing, be adaptable, be a second miler, be faithful, and be honest. Some fun things are sprinkled throughout to capture his personality such as “work before play, but sometimes eat dessert first” which is something his family does on family fun nights. If you don’t have a plan for your legacy, starting a character will would be a good action step to get you started.
Here are some questions to ask yourself in regards to creating the legacy you want to leave behind: (If you don’t know the answers to these questions, find a quiet space and take some time to reflect and to write out your answers and then create a plan to implement your legacy plan)
- What values are you instilling and passing on to your family?
- What are the things you want to intentionally teach your children and grandchildren?
- (Do you want to pass on your moral integrity, specific family traditions, an excellent work ethic, relationship skills, generosity, or a certain passion or skill?)
- How do you want your wealth and the money you’ve earned to impact your family members and the causes you love and support?
- Is there someone you could mentor to pass along your wealth of knowledge or skills?
- Do you have a trustee to help you manage your legacy plan and estate?
- Do you have a plan for your business?
- What are some fun things you do that you want to see carried on?
In addition to values, the joy of passing along wealth can truly be a gift! This gift can really allow the values you’ve instilled to flourish in a tangible way that changes the lives of your loved ones and the world. You can pass your wealth on in the form of charitable giving which includes direct gifts, charitable trusts, and by creating foundations. You can also include your ideals and values in your giving by weaving them into your monetary gifts to loved ones. For example, you can create an educational trust that only allows distributions if the beneficiary pursues a specific area of study (or, whatever value that is important to you and your family). When it comes to leaving money to loved ones you will want to find a Financial Advisor that you can trust to help you through the process.
“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” Proverbs 13:22 (ESV)
Financial Advisors and Legacy Planning
A legacy and an inheritance are two different things, but at Goodwin Investment Advisory we can help you do both! It can be hard to think about your legacy when you’re constantly stressed about money, insurance, and health issues, but when you have a team that can help guide you through all of your concerns, then you can focus on the significance, meaning, and purpose you want to leave behind. If you live in the Woodstock area, or the north Georgia region, reach out to Goodwin Investment Advisory to set up an intro call and see how we can help provide guidance and confidence in your financial plan with a team your family can trust.
Just as with writing a will, it’s important to start planning your legacy early so that when the time comes, your affairs are in order. A financial advisor provides advice on how best to prepare your legacy and assist with any questions or special requests that might come up. *If you own a small business or farm, or any other assets that require ongoing maintenance, legacy planning is often an important financial tool.