FINANCIAL FOCUS: Your legacy is in your hands

Joe Faulk

Joe Faulk

Published: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 10:58 AM.

Unless you closely track obscure holidays and observances, you probably didn’t know that August is “What Will Be Your Legacy? Month."

Still, you might want to use this month as a reminder to take action on what could be one of your most important financial goals: leaving a meaningful legacy.

A legacy isn’t simply a document or a bunch of numbers — it’s what you will be remembered for, and what you have left behind that will be remembered. It’s essentially your chance to contribute positively to the future, whether that means providing financial resources for the next generation, helping charitable organizations you support, or a combination of both.

To create your legacy, you’ll need to do some planning. Start by asking yourself a couple of key questions:

What are your goals? When you think about leaving a legacy, what comes to mind? First and foremost, you may well want to leave enough money to help your grown children meet their financial goals. After that, you probably have other things you’d like to accomplish. Perhaps you want to provide resources for your grandchildren to attend college. Or set up a scholarship at your alma mater. Give financial support to a cultural, social, religious or scientific groups.

By thinking about your goals and putting them on paper, even in an informal sense, you’ll be taking the important first step in leaving the legacy you desire.

If you don’t take some concrete steps, your legacy just won’t materialize. And the most important step you need to take is to create a comprehensive estate plan. Your estate plan can be quite involved, because it may involve several legal documents, such as a will, living trust, health care power of attorney, and so on. In creating these materials, you will need to work with your legal and tax advisers because estate planning is definitely not a “do-it-yourself” endeavor.

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