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Friday, December 1, 2017

Legacy Planning: Why Planning for your Legacy will Benefit Your Estate.

Legacy Planning: Why Planning for your Legacy will Benefit your Estate.


The term, “Legacy” denotes a larger meaning than simply leaving money or things behind to loved ones.  A legacy is more about the way someone lived rather than how they died.  Although, the administration of material assets is imperative to estate planning, leaving a legacy can also carry great weight when you are planning for your estate.  Making sound decisions, and thinking in terms of longevity versus interim is a legacy mantra for everybody.  The foundational element behind a legacy is that everyone leaves a legacy.  Whether you are wealthy or not, the way you live your life, in its entirety, may have lasting effects on your loved ones.  We have broken down some life hacks, both generally and legally, to help you conceptualize your legacy, and what it will mean after you are gone.

  1. Blueprint what is important to you.

    Morally, fiscally, emotionally, etc.  Figuring out what you hold as priority will guide you in creating the path for your legacy.  Start making small strides towards your “ideal” place.  Create a list starting with the smallest thing, like putting $5 away every week, to a bigger goal, like opening an investment portfolio or buying a business.  Not only will your goals be easier to identify by organizing them on a list, dream board, spreadsheet or whatever works for you, but they will become easier to accomplish, and not so impossible feeling, if you break them down into small, easily achievable, steps.  Also, knowing and recognizing what you want your life to look like right now doesn’t mean that goal is perpetual.  As you change and grow, your goals will too, so keep a working list to assist in guiding you in your journey.


  2. Invest in something.

    Financial investments are a fantastic way to provide growth to your financial situation.  If starting a business is something you have always wanted to do, research your state’s laws on business organization and how much protection is afforded to businesses in your state.  If opening a business isn’t for you, look at different investment opportunities; investments are not one size fits all.  Investing in something you care about frequently enables you to learn and become well-versed in different areas, because you have a monetary interest in it.  Also, investing can be creative and exciting if you like following your investment and seeing how value appreciates/depreciates.


  3. Create a Trust.

    Protecting your assets is a major part of leaving a legacy.  Albeit, more functional and calculated, you want the prosperity from all of your hard work to be protected and maximized.   Establishing a trust will create a safe harbor for your assets as they grow.  Depending on the size of your wealth will determine what kind of trust you will need and how you may want to disburse the assets.  Briefly, some main trust types are revocable living trusts, irrevocable living trusts (asset protection-for bigger assets), QTIP trusts (marriages) and children’s trusts.  We aren’t going into major detail, but you can read more about the various kinds of trusts here. Trusts can be inexpensive to start (depending on the type) and will establish a key organizational tool for your endeavors through life.


  4. Teach your Kids how to Spend Money.

    This sounds funny, we know.  However, showing your children what its like to get money and subsequently spend/lose it can carry a lot of weight.  Frequently, beneficiaries of estates are children of the decedent, and if they have no experience in managing their own money, it could be detrimental to hand over large sums of money.  More importantly, you may want your assets treated differently to continue your legacy, etc.  Your children may be your biggest and most important legacy, and therefore teaching them early, how to start building their legacy will create a cycle that will benefit the generations proceeding you.


  5. Hire Professionals.

Hiring CPA’s, financial advisors, attorneys, investment brokers, etc. will make it easier for you to accomplish your goals.  Experts will take your goals, assess your situation and ideally, give sound advice on how to achieve those goals.  If you cannot afford to hire a professional, do some research and educate yourself on some tips to steer you in the right direction.  If you want to give to a charity, many organizations will provide some assistance, so you can contribute.  If you have the financial ability, hiring specialists will only provide you with more information to make decisions that will benefit you and your legacy.

Legacy planning coincides (very closely!) with estate planning.  Many of the topics discussed above, are things that clients should be informed of when establishing an estate plan.  Being aware of what you want and what kind of legacy you want to leave is food for thought and doesn’t necessarily have to depend on financial success.  However, for most people, having some sort of financial and legal organization is a big part of leaving a strong legacy that will provide for generations to come.


-by Laura Bown (Law Clerk/JD Candidate, 2018, Boyd School of Law, UNLV) with Tiffany Ballenger Floyd, Esq. (Nevada & California Estate Planning Attorney), © 2017, Phillips Ballenger, PLLC

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