You have worked hard all your life to create your family legacy. Now it’s time to preserve your legacy through careful estate planning aimed at passing your legacy down to future generations. Your legacy is more than just the assets you have purchased or the money you have invested. Your legacy also includes your values, your beliefs, and your vision. These too can be interwoven into a comprehensive estate plan to ensure that they are part of what you leave behind when you die.
An estate plan is as unique as the individual who creates the plan. Therefore, no two estates plans are the same; however, there are some estate planning strategies that are commonly used to ensure that your legacy is passed down along with your actual estate assets.
your Will allows you to make specific bequests as well as general gifts. This is your opportunity to pass down tangible items that are part of your legacy. Although it may be time-consuming, take the time to make a list of specific bequests that have meaning to you—and hopefully to the beneficiary. Family heirlooms, for example, should be left to the person for whom they will have the most significance. If you have a book that made a difference in your life, leave it to a child or grandchild in the hope that it will have a similar impact on their life.
- Letter of Instruction – a letter of instruction is not legally binding but can be a powerful addition to an estate plan. The letter gives you the opportunity to explain gifts made in your Will and the reason behind them. It also allows you to hopes and wishes with regard to gifts you leave by explaining what you hope the recipient will do with the gift.
- Trusts – a trust allows you to exert control over your gift long after you are gone. A well drafted trust can keep your legacy going for decades through the trust terms. For example, if education is important to you the trust terms could dictate that trust assets are only to be used for educational purposes.
- Charitable gifts – you legacy can live on through gifts to charity. You can make a direct gift, for example, in your planor establish a trust that will provide financial support for a church, wildlife or environmental organization, political party or anything else that was important to you during your lifetime.
By working closely with your estate planning attorney you can ensure that your legacy is passed down to future generations.
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