Welcome to Values-based estate planning. It’s a new world of estate planning, one that honors who and what you love, celebrates the life you’ve lived, and creates a legacy to leave behind for those you love. We call it Values-based estate planning. The focus is on your values, not just your assets. The poet Emily Dickinson once said, “My friends are my estate.” If you have anyone in your life that you care about, you have an estate, no matter how much or how little money you have. Your will or your trust needs to reflect this. Values-based estate planning still uses the traditional legal vehicles such as wills and trust to transfer your assets. You may be intrigued to learn how leaving a legacy is a large part of estate planning and often has little to do with money. Estate planning is really about the people. It’s about you and the people, animals, and organizations that you love and care for.
What are examples of legacy assets? Your legacy assets are anything that you create that’s about who you are and the message you want to leave to your loved ones, your community, and the world. Some examples might be a flag you’ve received after your military service or that china set that was given you by your great grandmother, newspaper clippings and memorabilia celebrating a milestone you achieved, or it may be as simple as a letter that you’ve written to your grandchildren or a video you’ve included of your story.
Here are some actual examples from our clients. Barb wanted to be sure that if something happened to her, the guardians she named would teach her children as she would, so she wrote down her top ten life lessons that I share with my children. Sam and Amanda went through many financial difficulties during their marriage so they created a list of guiding principles to be presented by their trustees to the beneficiaries before any monies could be distributed in their trust. Suzanne and Neal greatly believe in community service so they left a letter explaining how and why they contributed to their favorite charity and described the benefits they received by doing it. The letter encouraged their children and grandchildren to do the same.
So think about it. There’s probably so much that your children, grandchildren, or other loved ones don’t know about you and your life. This is incredibly valuable information. This is your legacy, and it needs to be shared. Values-based estate planning gathers the necessary material to create your legacy. That information becomes a part of your will or your trust. Let us help you with the tools to incorporate your legacy assets into your estate plan. Estate planning isn’t hard when you know what your values are. This is smart estate planning from the heart.