Leaving Behind More Than Money

Your Legacy Plan: How to Leave Behind More Than Money

May 29, 2018
Lynda CruickshankBy Lynda Cruickshank
Wealth Management Advisor

Not everyone has a huge fortune to pass on. Whether your actual net worth is grand or modest, you have assets to share with your family that could be more important than money — your values.

Teaching your loved ones lessons by setting an example, giving them an outlet to support causes you care about, and letting them know your expectations — these are important, regardless of your net worth. Ideally, developing values in your children should begin when kids are young. The lessons they learn as they're growing up probably will make the deepest impression and set the stage for the values they have as adults.

But as your loved ones grow, there are also ways to create a financial legacy for them that reflects and passes along your values:

Support Community Projects & Philanthropic Causes

By becoming involved in community projects and philanthropic causes, you can show your children how important it is to help others. Volunteer with organizations whose mission is meaningful to you. If possible, bring the kids along to public events. Encourage them to help out or share their own creative ideas. Along the way, you may find that your commitment to the organization is contagious.

Set up a Private Foundation or Donor-advised Fund

If you're financially able to do so, consider setting up a private foundation or donor-advised fund that will allow your loved ones to donate to causes and organizations you care about. Ask for input from the kids when you are writing a mission statement to get them personally involved and help give them ownership in the project.

Share your Expectations

As your children become adults, communicate your expectations clearly. Family meetings can help you gauge your children's strengths and weaknesses and give you the chance to bring up any concerns you have about their ability to handle a future inheritance responsibly.

Create an Incentive Trust

You can promote your values by creating a family incentive trust. You would structure the trust so that your heirs must reach certain goals -- such as earning a college degree, starting a career, performing volunteer work, etc. -- before receiving their inheritance. Such a trust can offer significant tax benefits and can remain in place through multiple generations.

Values can also be passed on through stories, memories, and traditions — so remember to share your family's history. And if you would like more information on how to create a legacy plan that reflects and passes on your values, we're here to help! Contact an advisor today.