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21st-Century Legacy Planning

October 31, 2021 V268

The one who plants trees, knowing that he or she will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘Legacy’ as an amount of wealth or property left to someone in a will, or something handed down by a predecessor.

In financial planning, ‘Legacy Planning’ is a strategy and exercise that prepares you to bequeath your assets to a loved one or next of kin after you die. Doing this allows your family to focus on their grief instead of getting bogged down in paperwork and politics.

Today, there is a lot of talk about ‘leaving a legacy’. Political, social, and business leaders, and even heads of families, write books to leave a legacy for their country, the future, their company, or their descendants. Spiritual and religious leaders interpret legacy to mean the impact your thoughts, words, and deeds will have on your family, community, nation, and the world. Companies and businesses leave a legacy in the communities they operate in. Students are the legacies of teachers. Children are the legacy of their parents. The legacy of your current thoughts is your future self.

To want to preserve or propagate what you have worked on, accumulated, built, pioneered, is natural. But 21st-century legacy planning requires 21st-century thinking.

Take a 360-degree view of planning.

Surround yourself with experts; put yourself into more situations where you are not the smartest person in the room. Learn from history; it may not repeat but it does rhyme and its lessons echo throughout history. Read widely. Create backup plans, backup storage (eg, discreet 24x7 private vaults), data backups. And finally, trust but verify.

Take a 360-degree view of the term ‘legacy’.

Legacy planning is much more than leaving a financial legacy, ie responsibly distributing the wealth we’ve accumulated. We leave various kinds of legacies: an ethics legacy through the values we have upheld, a character legacy through the way we have raised our children, an altruism legacy through the help we have provided to our fellow human beings and other living things, and a civilisation legacy through the institutions we have built and the ideas we have shared.

Finally, in a world increasingly characterised by VUCA, even traditional legacy planning has changed. Parents are beginning their planning earlier. The focus of education is changing from knowledge to imagination and creativity, IQ to EQ and resilience, goal-setting to character-building.

We often don’t know what we don’t know, but once we recognise this we can begin looking for answers, solutions, and experts.

How do you want to be remembered?

Have a Merry and Meaningful Christmas.


Information accurate at time of publishing.