Your legacy is what you leave behind when you die. Although the wealth you have accumulated during your lifetime is certainly part of your legacy, your legacy may encompass more than simply your accumulated wealth. Your ideals and principles are also part of your legacy. If you fail to create a legacy plan while you are still here to do so then you lose out on the opportunity to define the legacy that you leave behind.
Your legacy plan is essentially an extension of your basic estate plan. A basic estate plan determines who will receive your assets upon your death; however, it may stop there. A legacy plan first looks at how you can preserve and increase your wealth now as well as provide for your golden years. It then takes into account the loved ones, family members and causes that are important to you and determines how to create a legacy for those people and causes that will continue long after your death.
With a legacy plan you can do much more than simply transfer your assets when you die. Often, directly transferring assets to a family member or loved one is not a good idea — particularly if the beneficiary does not know how to handle finances well. With a legacy plan, you can create trusts that will allow you to dictate the terms under which your assets can be used as well as preserve assets for generations to come. You may also wish to provide for a cause that has special meaning for you through the creation of a charitable trust. Your legacy is yours to create, so take the time now to do so.
Levine & Furman, LLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.