Most people are familiar with the concept of estate planning; however, “legacy planning” may be a concept that is new to you. Legacy planning allows you to do more than just pass down your material wealth. It allows you to pass down the intangible characteristics that make you who you are. To help you better understand the concept, the Westport legacy planning attorneys at Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates, P.C. explain the difference between legacy planning and estate planning.
Estate Planning vs. Legacy Planning
The primary focus of a traditional estate plan is the distribution of estate assets after the creator’s death. Your estate assets may include real or personal property as well as tangible and intangible assets. What all those assets have in common, however, is that they represent the material wealth you have accumulated over the course of your lifetime. Within a traditional estate plan, there is no place for deeply held values, ideals, philosophies, and beliefs that have played an important role in your life and have shaped the person you are today. Passing down those characteristics may be just as important – if not more important — to you as passing down your assets. The reasons for creating a traditional estate plan remain important, of course, because you still need a roadmap that can be used to distribute your material wealth, plan for the possibility of your own incapacity, and protect your heard-earned assets. All of those goals can be met in a traditional estate plan; however, a traditional estate plan does not help you pass down those values, morals, faith, and beliefs that guided you throughout your lifetime and helped you achieve your material success. For that, you should consider creating a legacy plan.
Legacy planning is not intended to take the place of your traditional estate plan. Instead, legacy planning is something that can be woven into your existing estate plan. The idea behind legacy planning is to ensure that the intangible assets you have – your morals, values, faith, and philosophies – are also passed down to future generations because for many of us, those are what we really want to leave behind for our children and grandchildren.
What Will Your Legacy Be?
Before you can decide how you want to incorporate your legacy into your estate plan, you need to take some time to decide what you want your legacy to be. What are the ideals and beliefs that have guided you throughout your lifetime? What philosophies have guided your career? Is your faith one of your core values? How can your legacy shape future generations? Once you know what legacy you want to pass down, it is time to weave that legacy into your estate plan. Your legacy planning attorney will help you do just that by using a wide variety of strategies and tools.
For example, you may decide to include a trust in your legacy plan. A trust allows you to create terms that can directly reflect your values and beliefs. For example, the trust terms may stipulate that the assets held in the trust may only be used to pay for educational expenses incurred by beneficiaries. You might even require beneficiaries to attend a specific school or pursue a select area of higher education, such as medicine or law. You can also use charitable gifting tools within your plan to help further your faith and beliefs. Gifting to a church, for example, clearly shows future generations that your faith was important to you while leaving behind a sizeable donation to one of the many not for profit environmental groups shows your commitment to the environment. Finally, a Letter of Instruction is a simple and straightforward way to include legacy planning in your estate plan by putting down in writing what you want future generations to know and understand about the beliefs and values that shaped your life.
Contact Westport Legacy Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for one of our upcoming FREE seminars. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding how to pass on your legacy, or you are ready to get started with your legacy planning, contact the experienced Westport legacy planning attorneys at Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates, P.C. by calling (860) 548-1000 to schedule an appointment.