Legacy Planning Attorney
Serving the Middlesex & Worcester County Areas
Many adults have never heard of legacy planning, yet it can be an incredibly important part of estate planning. While there is certainly value in planning for the disposition of financial assets, it is important not to forget other family “treasures,” such as the history of your family, the morals and beliefs of your family, and treasured family heirlooms. These assets are often entirely overlooked when it comes time to engage in estate planning. Legacy planning offers a more holistic approach to the entire subject of estate planning, allowing you to manage your assets while you are alive, distribute your assets after your death, and, perhaps most importantly, to present a plan for passing your legacy along to those you love.
Legacy planning can include non-financial assets, financial assets, interests in a family-owned business, other business interests, personal property, retirement accounts, investments, and life insurance proceeds. Legacy planning also includes the things you would want to see passed on from generation to generation among your loved ones. Those things might include community involvement or charitable contributions, the responsible behaviors you would want to see from future generations, and your core values.
Legacy planning can also include stories of your family, accumulated family wisdom, and the passing along of cherished family heirlooms. Legacy planning is something every adult should at least consider. If you would like to explore the issue of legacy planning further, the Law Offices of James A. Miller, P.C., can help you do that. Attorney James A. Miller has helped many people set forth their legacy to those they love; he will discuss your legacy wishes in-depth, then will memorialize your legacy decisions for your family.
When Should Legacy Planning Begin?
Like estate planning, the sooner you begin legacy planning, the better. Just as you can make changes to your estate plan as your life situation changes (marriage, divorce, birth, death, increased wealth, decreased wealth, job changes, changes in health, etc.), you can do the same with a legacy plan. Legacy planning is about preserving your life’s work—allowing what you feel is your purpose in life to be carried forward by your heirs, so the impact continues. Legacy planning can encompass wealth or beliefs, values, and ideals—or all of these.
When you engage in legacy planning, you are, in effect, challenging your loved ones to be their best selves throughout their lives. While some might say legacy planning feels “egotistical,” in fact, by engaging in legacy planning, you are leaving your loved ones an amazing gift. So, legacy planning should begin when you feel you have a legacy to leave—whether that occurs in your twenties, or much later.
What Will Happen to My Business When I Die?
Business succession planning is a key component of legacy planning. Perhaps you have spent most of your life building a business from scratch. Or, perhaps, you inherited a family business, which will be passed down to your own family members after your death. Your unique family circumstances will dictate who you choose to take over your business after your death—in some cases, a family member simply might not be the best person to name as a successor. You might decide to name a key employee or a person who has been an integral part of your business and who knows how to keep the business running successfully. Establishing a business succession plan as a part of your legacy planning can go a long way to prevent conflict once you pass away.
The Legacy of Your Family History
Virtually every family has family “stories.” These stories are your family history, whether written or spoken. This is another important component of legacy planning. You might want to consider recording your family stories, then storing them in a safe place where they can be accessed by your family members. You might also want to record significant moments in your life—moments that could be forgotten forever without this record. Like every human being, you have knowledge, beliefs, and values which you want to pass along to your loved ones. Family trees, genealogy reports, photographs, virtually anything which tells the story of “you” can be included during legacy planning.
How Do I Protect My Assets for My Heirs?
In addition to the legacy of you—who you are, your story, your beliefs, your values—you will also want to ensure your assets are properly protected for your heirs. Your family history resides in material goods as well as in stories and photographs. You may have an art collection, antique furniture, first edition books, or other collectibles that have been passed down from generation to generation. You want to make sure that when the next generation receives these items, they understand the history and significance of the items. You can do that through spoken or written words which detail why the items are dear to you, and how you want them preserved.
What About Charitable Planning?
Perhaps you—and family members before you—have a history of charitable contributions. You may have very specific charitable contributions that you want to continue after your death. Legacy planning will help you determine the right way to accomplish this, while limiting your tax liability, thus allowing more of your money to go toward the causes you cherish. As an example, you—along with family members who died before you—may have a long history of donating to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital. You might want that legacy to continue long after you are gone.
You can set up charitable giving to continue long after your death, or you can explain to family members in your legacy planning documents how important this charity is to you, asking that they continue giving with the assets you leave to them. There are many ways to accomplish charitable giving through your legacy planning; your estate planning attorney is qualified to help you set this up. You may leave instructions for direct gifts to certain charities or might consider pooled-income fund contributions, Gifts in trust, or donor-advised funds.
How the Law Offices of James A. Miller, P.C., Can Help with Legacy Planning
If you are interested in the idea of legacy planning, Attorney James A. Miller can help you set up a legacy plan that perfectly fits you and your life. When you contact the Law Offices of James A. Miller, P.C., you have taken an important step for your future. We can help you set up your estate plan and legacy plan, as well as helping you with issues related to eldercare. Contact the Law Offices of James A. Miller, P.C., today.