25 Feb Leaving a Legacy: What Will We Pass On?
As we prepare our Living Trusts, many of us reflect on what we will pass on to our children. Property and other assets will be divided among our heirs, but a legacy can transcend money and material goods.
My mother passed on that which really mattered
My own parents lived well into their 90s and died within a few months of each other. As we cleaned out their home, my siblings and I found nothing that we wanted to keep as mementos. No jewelry, artwork or prized keepsakes. Yet it was my mother who left us so much of what really mattered. Smart, funny and indefatigable, my mom taught us to be critical thinkers; she instilled her love of learning, a strong work ethic, a sense of humor and creativity. That was my mom’s legacy. We weren’t a family who took pictures or recorded our lives in any way. Sadly, I have nothing with which to remember my mom now but a single treasured picture that lives on the corner of my desk.
Fortunately, other families are more sentimental, more conscious of the importance of documenting their lives and passing down traditions from one generation to the next, of keeping customs and legacies alive. They can do this in a number of ways, according to the interests of their families and cultures.
Sharing favorite recipes with her daughters
I read about one mother who was a fabulous cook. She loved to bake and made incredible breads and pastries. She made an elaborate wedding cake for each of her six daughters’ weddings. The gifts she passed on to her daughters were handcrafted cookbooks. Her daughters treasured those recipes and liked to think about how much love their mom poured into the creation of each book. They looked forward to passing these family recipes on to their own children.
Crafting personalized photo albums
Another mother of three adult children created photo albums for each of her three grandchildren. She and her husband take each grandchild on an annual trip to an exciting destination. The photos, along with mementoes, ticket stubs, descriptions and itineraries are all collected in an album. She wants her grandchildren to keep these wonderful memories, just as her children did before them.
Recording travel adventures
For seniors who can still travel, this is a wonderful way to share and record those experiences. One website recommends Elderhostel, a nonprofit that organizes travel for seniors and their families/guests. It provides a structured environment that focuses on accessibility and learning. Creating an album of photos and other mementoes of those travel adventures is a wonderful way to capture memories.
Creating unique videos
One mother of four wanted to leave her children a video of advice and stories passed down from generations. The video, carefully created and archived over a period of years, turned out to be a cherished family keepsake that has helped all the generations not only learn and respect their ancestors, but also feel tied to generations past. This is a wonderful way to understand a family’s history and journey to America.
We’re living in the fast lane
While we post Instagram stories that disappear within 24 hours, we’re now considering legacies that will transcend generations, that will be just as relevant now as they are 20 or 40 years or more. There’s room for both.
Along with documenting memories and legacies, a Living Trust is another important part of life planning. Without it, your family with need to go through Probate. Schedule an appointment today by contacting us at one of our three Bay Area offices. Our dedicated team is helpful, compassionate and affordable.