7 Ways for Parents, Grandparents and Seniors to Leave a Profound LegacySubmitted by Reby Advisors | Certified Financial Planners | Danbury, CT on September 12th, 2019
By Patrick Doherty, CFP®, September 13, 2019
Leaving a profound legacy: it’s a timeless goal that gets even more important to us when we become parents, grandparents and advance in age.
However, legacy goals are as diverse as human interests. What we decide to leave behind to loved ones—and the causes we care about—often goes beyond money, and differs vastly from one person and family to the next. Words of wisdom, religious values, treasured family stories and even generations-old cooking recipes are just a few examples.
What steps can we take now to ensure we leave the legacy of our choosing?
Here are seven action items beyond the estate planning documents checklist to reach your non-monetary legacy goals:
1. Make Your Future Medical Decisions & Give Your Family Peace
How can a person make their own medical decisions even when they’re on their deathbed? It’s simple: write them out ahead of time. Unfortunately, many people haven’t created a living will or any of its alternatives. Many people haven’t even heard of a POLST, or Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. And most people, if asked, will have a strong opinion about DNR (do not resuscitate)—yet they might not have it officially documented.
These types of documents are important not only for your end-of-life comfort and autonomy, but also for the peace of mind of your loved ones. You don’t want them to have to wonder whether they’re doing the right thing as far as medical decisions. Making your wishes known takes a tremendous burden off your family, allowing them to grieve with less pain and guilt.
There are many different forms available, including a living will, POLST, and DNR. These orders will become a part of your permanent medical record and any doctor who treats you will have an ethical obligation to abide by them.
2. Don’t Rely on Your Driver’s License When it Comes to Organ Donation
Organ donation is a highly individual decision. Some people are strongly in favor of donating their organs, while others are uncomfortable with the idea or have religious beliefs that strongly discourage organ donation.
You’ve probably already made this decision on your driver’s license, but if you want to make the decision truly binding, you’ll also need to fill out the National Organ Donor Registry. This ensures that no one can override the decision stated on your driver’s license.
3. Get the Most Important Refrigerator Magnet You’ll Ever Own
It’s impossible for your wishes to be carried out if no one knows about them. In the event that your loved ones or medical care providers need access to your emergency information, a File of Life makes this info easily accessible. You can get a refrigerator magnet, window decal, and a card for your wallet with all the most important information. You can get a free File of Life online, at medical centers, from local community groups, and at many city emergency departments.
4. Have Loving, Honest Conversations with Your Family and Loved Ones
Make sure to have honest and open dialogue with your loved ones and next of kin. Verbally tell them your wishes, in addition to having them officially documented. Your loved ones should know what to expect from the future. Cover all the important information regarding your medical wishes, but also be mindful of their feelings—this is a difficult conversation for many. This is a time when you can also discuss not only your wishes for yourself, but your wishes for your loved ones once you’re gone.
5. Appoint Trusted People to These Roles
Legacy planning requires you to put some thought into things you may have never thought about before. You don’t want to cause undue grief to your loved ones by failing to make your wishes known. To ensure everything runs smoothly at the end of your life or after you pass away, you’ll likely need to appoint trusted people to the following roles:
- Power of Attorney
- Court-Appointed Guardians
- Government Fiduciaries
We understand that this is an overwhelming topic for many. A trusted estate planner can help you through this process. Or, you can call Reby Advisors and we can either help or introduce you to someone who can.
6. Decide What Will Happen to Your Social Media & Online Accounts
From social media accounts to airline miles and even cryptocurrencies, in today’s world, nearly everyone has some type of digital asset. Do you have any idea what will happen to your digital assets?
If you’re a Facebook user, you have the option to turn your account into a “Memory” page after your death. You can appoint a loved one to become the administrator of your page, and they can inform Facebook of your death and have your account converted into a page where loved ones can view and share memories of your life.
If you own digital currencies, it’s crucial that you let someone know how to access them! There have been cases where millions of dollars of cryptocurrencies are lost because no one knew how to access them except for the deceased person.
Take stock of your digital accounts and ensure the appropriate people can gain access to them when they need to.
7. And Most Importantly, Think Beyond Money
Your values. Wisdom. Life lessons. Items that have emotional value. Your wishes for your loved ones’ futures. These things have worth—and research shows that the majority of people find them to be far more important than financial assets or real estate. What do you want your legacy to be? While estate planning and health planning documents are important, they ultimately don’t carry the weight that your legacy does.
So, write letters to your loved ones, create video messages and capture memories and stories that can be passed on. Your closest loved ones will treasure these legacy items and share with family who may be too young to remember or are yet unborn.
Resources to Help You Out
In additional to getting a trusted estate planning advisor, consider the following resources:
- Complimentary for wealth management clients of Reby Advisors, Everplans helps store and share the critical information loved ones will need if something happens to you.
- Ellen Goodman’s Conversation Project at TheConversationProject.com, a starter kit for initiating discussion on wishes and one for dementia situations.
- Cake at joincake.com, a software aimed at making planning for illness and death “a piece of cake.”
- Prepare at www.PrepareForYourCare.org, a variety of helpful questions, videos and explanations on completing advance directives.
- Heart2Hearts at discussdirectives.com/heart2hearts-acp.html, a unique deck of cards for discussing advance directives.