Creating a Legacy Plan That’s More Than Just Your Money
Usually, the last part of a financial plan that folks want to talk about is their estate planning. People expect the conversation will be morbid, depressing, and depending on the family situation, maybe even a bit contentious. And while it's true that this can be an emotionally challenging process, I believe that there are ways to reframe how we think about estate planning so that we can feel more positive about what we're going to leave behind.
On today's show, we discuss the differences between estate planning and the comprehensive legacy planning that's part of our checklist-driven process at Keen Wealth.
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Your Estate Plan
You'll often see the terms "estate plan" and "legacy plan" used interchangeably. But, in the traditional sense, your estate plan is a series of legal documents that memorialize how you want to be cared for at the end of your life and how you want your assets to be distributed to heirs.
You can dig into some detailed resources on estate planning at KeenWealthAdvisors.com, but broadly, these are the documents you should put together, with help from your financial advisor and your attorney:
- Last Will and Testament, which outlines your last wishes and explains how you want your estate to be distributed to your heirs and any other beneficiaries, such as charitable organizations.
- Power of Attorney that authorizes someone you trust to act on your behalf while you’re still alive, in the event that you are incapacitated or unable to make decisions. Be aware that your designee only has power of attorney while you are still alive.
- Healthcare Directive dictating how you would like to be cared for in the event that you become incapacitated.
- Living Will designating a person to be in charge of making important medical choices on your behalf if you are unable to. This person might use your healthcare directive as a guide, or you can explain the thought process you want your designee to go through to aid in their decision-making.
- Living Trust for those who may have a more complex situation or wish to keep their situations private.
If you don't currently have these documents signed, notarized, and secured in a safe place that you've shared with your executor, please don't wait any longer. Without a durable estate plan in place, when you pass your state of residence will settle your estate according to local laws. That can be a very messy process.
Your Legacy Plan
At Keen Wealth, we include estate planning essentials under the broader headline of legacy planning. I believe that your money and possessions are just one part of a much larger and richer class of assets that you've accumulated over the course of your lifetime. I'm talking about your wisdom, your values, your charitable impact to your community, your memories, your family's history. It's important that you think about how you want to pass on everything that you've cultivated in your life to the next generation, not just your money.
So how do you start your legacy plan?
You might journal about your memories, your daily experiences, and your personal values. You could use your phone's voice recording app or video camera to make testimonials. You could pull out that shoebox full of old family photos and make a digital or physical album. Or you could do any combination of these.
If you're having trouble getting started, let me suggest some prompts:
- What are some of the major life events that were real turning points for you?
- Who were your mentors? Whom did you mentor?
- Was there a moment in your life when you felt like you were out of answers? How did you find a path forward? What did you learn about yourself on the other side?
Another exercise that I've seen have very powerful results is to write your own eulogy. This too might sound morbid, but what you're really doing is describing your life the way you want it to be remembered. And as you're reflecting on what you've done, you might also start thinking about what you still want to accomplish and set some new goals.
The most effective way to create a lasting legacy is to incorporate it into a comprehensive financial plan. When you work with an advisor who knows where you've been and where you are right now, you'll feel more confident in planning for where you want to go.
Whether you need help assembling your estate planning documents or starting to build your legacy, get in touch with my team at Keen Wealth and let's discuss your next steps.
Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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