Have you ever wondered what gift your children or grandchildren would treasure most from you long after your death? The answer can simply be your story. Nothing could be more priceless to a child than reading and pondering words from a loved one, designed to convey a three-dimensional perspective in a two-dimensional note. Not everyone can share a financial legacy, but everyone can share some of life’s riches by creating a legacy statement.
A legacy statement is a beautiful old custom that is unfortunately not well known in our time. Typically, parents wrote their children a letter in which they tried to summarize everything they had learned in life and in which they tried to express what they most wanted for and from their children. They would leave these letters because they believed that the wisdom they had acquired was as much a part of the legacy they wanted to leave their children as any material possessions.
The first legacies are found in the Bible. Jacob gathers his children around his bed and tries to tell them how to live after he dies. And Moses makes a farewell speech, chastises, prophesies and teaches his people before he dies. David prepares Solomon before he goes to his eternal rest by warning him of whom to beware when he becomes king and by asking him to complete the task he had begun and could not complete.
A legacy statement, also called an ethical testament, is not dissimilar to the stories recorded for Superman by his loving parents – offering advice and wisdom for life situations long after they were personally available for such advice. You are far richer than the sum of your material assets, but your legal and financial papers will only deal with the question, “What do I want my loved ones to have?” Their legacy statement is “What should I tell them?” A legacy statement is not a legal document; Rather, it complements your legal documents. Perhaps you are in a situation where you need to create your legal documents and a legacy statement to protect those you love.
You work very diligently to achieve achievements big and small, you should give equal attention to leaving all the things you value to those you love.
* The value of your story in your words.
* The value of your insights.
* The thoughts and methods used in developing your planning and distribution.
* The value of your love and feelings for your loved ones.
A personal declaration of inheritance can capture all of these treasures and pass them on to the next generations.
Legacy declarations can be one of the most valuable and meaningful gifts you can leave your family and community. But a legacy statement is not easy to write. In doing so, you confront yourself. You have to look within to see what the essential truths are that you’ve learned in life, face your mistakes, and consider what the things are that really matter. That’s how you learn a lot about yourself when you write a legacy statement. If you had time to write just one letter, who would it be addressed to? what would it say what would you leave out Would you chastise and correct? Would you give thanks, forgive, or try to teach?
Conversely, a legacy statement is not easy to read. One has the feeling of being a voyeur, eavesdropping on an intimate conversation, reading a love letter from the afterlife. Those who read these documents should do so with awe and gratitude. The words of those we loved can be powerful memories and provoke unanticipated emotional responses. A wise reader will consume the information while an adult engages in mature conversation with another adult. The sum of one’s earthly existence may prove utterly invaluable to many future generations.
What should a legacy declaration contain?
Content will vary from person to person, but here are some starting points:
* Your beliefs and opinions
* Important events in your life
* Things you have done to act on your values
* Something you learned from your grandparents, parents, siblings, spouse and/or children
* Something you learned from personal experience
* Something to be thankful for
* Your hopes for the future
If you are willing to put in the effort and invest your time in a priceless gift, your energy and dedication should be appreciated by generations to come. I personally invite you to embark on a challenging adventure and I wish you happy writing!
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