Leaving Your Legacy: How and When PDF Print E-mail
In the essay entitled What Is This Thing Called Legacy? in this topic section of the website I tried to get a handle on just what is legacy.  It is more than things and wealth.  It is wisdom more than anything else.  It is not the stories about our life and experiences.  It is the lessons we have learned from life and our experiences as we have trod through it.

My ancestors were great journal writers but all I have learned from reading those journals are the facts of their lives and many of the experiences they had.  But I learned nothing about what they learned from all of that.  But how do you capture what you have learned and share it with succeeding generations?  I have shared one device with you; an interview format much like Larry King or Barbara Walters would follow.  It is called Alive With …. and it can be found in this topic section of the website.  This device allows you to be interviewed by your grandchildren or others so that out of their questions (many questions are suggested to stimulate your interviewers’ imagination) your wisdom can be distilled and transmitted.
 
In this short essay I will introduce you to a number of other devices and sources of ideas and assistance in helping you capture and transmit your wisdom.  The Old Testament of the Bible is full of stories about the transmission of legacy and wisdom.  Out of that context has grown a substantial field of advice and advisors who stand ready to provide you with tools to help you capture your wisdom and transmit it.  They often stand ready to directly assist you in this effort if you so desire.  The first one I came in contact with, and know the most about, is Susan B. Turnbull.  “Susan is a professional writer and founder of Personal Legacy Advisors, LLC.  The firm provides guidance and writing support for the private clients of estate planning attorneys and financial planners who wish to address more than just the financial dimensions of their life and legacy.”  I am quoting from her booklet entitled The Wealth of Your Life: A Step-by-Step Guide for Creating Your Ethical Will.  I don’t like the term “ethical will” because it implies that this is a document that will only be opened and read at your death.  In my opinion, if that is the case, you miss a great opportunity to engage with you loved ones around the wisdom you have shared with them in this document during your lifetime.  In many cases, this might be a difficult situation for you to engage in and you might well feel more comfortable leaving this thoughts only at your death.  But don’t let the term “will” create the decision to only leave your wisdom at your death.  If you want to share it during your life let me encourage you to do so and Susan’s booklet is a wonderful way of capturing your legacy of wisdom and sharing it now.  Susan and I have discussed the problem associated with the word “will” but haven’t come up with a better one.  If you can, please share with me in the Contact Us section of this website.  Also I encourage you to go to Susan’s website
www.yourethicalwill.com and learn all about her other services.  Like the other advisors in this field she provides personal and face-to-face services as well.
 
Another resource that I would recommend to you is the website
www.ethicalwill.com.  They offer a number of resources one of which is a book store that offers some excellent books and resource materials.  They offer Susan Turnbull’s booklet mentioned above along with a number of other books I have read and can highly recommend:  Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl (a classic!), and From Age-ing to Sage-ing by Zalman Schacter-Shalomi and Ronald Miller.  The host of this site has authored his own book that is a self-help guide to developing an ethical will:  Ethic Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper by Barry K. Baines, MD.
 
While on the subject of books let me also strongly recommend The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch who was a professor at Carnegie Mellon up until his death.  This book is loaded with wisdom and thoughts on life.  There is a website devoted to this little book:
www.thelastlecture.com.   And you might want to type in “randy pausch” in your search engine and explore what comes up.  In his life and death Randy left a wonderful legacy for all of us.  Take advantage of it.

Let me close this short essay by going back to its title Leaving Your Legacy: How and When.  There are a myriad of ways you can leave a legacy of wisdom.  As I have pointed out in the stories about Papa and Sam in the Stories section of this website, you will leave a legacy; be it positive or negative and be it intentional or unintentional.  So why not leave an intentional one that draws out all of the positive wisdom you have acquired through out your lifetime.  There a lots of ways to do so and I have pointed out some in this essay and also given one specific idea in the Alive With …. article in this topic section of the website.  I am sure your financial planner and/or estate planning attorney is familiar with advisors in your local area that can provide personal assistance in developing and preserving your legacy be it in writing or in a video or audio format.  This leaves the question of When.  The answer is Now!  Even if you don’t give it to your loved ones and heirs immediately but choose to leave it to them at your death, you need to create it now – write it now or record it now or video tape it now.  And when you do, don’t leave it be but review it and expand upon it over time.  The very act of articulating your wisdom and legacy will, in and of itself, bring to mind so much more that is tucked away in the recesses of your mind.  And the act of reviewing it over time will help you come up with even more wisdom and insights.
 
Finally as you go through this exercise please share with me your reactions and insights.  There is a place for you to do so in the Contact Us section of the website.  Thanks for sharing.