During a conversation with a client last week, she mentioned her latest project, adding a “legacy letter” to her estate plan. A “legacy letter”, or an “ethical will”, is a document created to communicate your values, experiences and accumulated wisdom to your family. While it’s not a legal document, and shouldn’t instruct any distribution of your assets, it is a means of guiding your loved ones once you are gone.
Getting started may seem daunting, so begin by asking yourself what were major turning points in your life or lessons you wish to impart. Most importantly, there is no right or wrong way to tell your story or to express reflections on a life well lived. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Share your story – What special experiences would you like to share with your loved ones?
- Pass along your values – How do your stories reflect your values?
- Be thankful – Who and what are you thankful for? How have others helped you through your journey?
- Give guidance – Use your past as a means of communicating the lessons you’ve learned. Is there anything you would do differently?
Once you get started, you may be surprised at how easy and fulfilling it is to leave a history of your values to help guide your heirs in the future.