When you think about loved ones who've passed away, you probably don't think very much—or even at all—about the “things” they've left you. And when they do leave something behind, what you likely cherish most about the object are the memories and feelings the item evokes, not the thing itself.
For my wife, Amber, the most treasured memento her mother left her wasn't even something she intended to be special—it was just a random voicemail on her cellphone. And the message wasn't meant to be anything sentimental.
Following her death, Amber loved listening to that message to hear her mother's voice. Of everything left behind, that tiny voicemail was what she cherished most.
Until one day, she went to listen to the message and discovered it had been erased—and her mother's voice was lost to her forever. She still recalls that day as one of her worst ever.
Seeing Amber lose that voicemail ultimately showed me the importance of including this in the estate plans that I provide to my clients. Every estate plan I complete includes the Family Wealth Legacy Interview.
Family Wealth Legacy Interviews: Sharing Your Family's Unique Story
As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we recognize that estate planning isn't just about protecting and passing on your financial wealth and other tangible assets when you die. When done right, estate planning supports you to pass down the most precious assets of all—your life stories, lessons, insights, and values—and done so intentionally. That's why we call it Life & Legacy Planning, not just estate planning.
To collect and preserve what truly matters most, we include a unique service in every estate plan we create for our clients. When you plan with us, we will personally guide you to create a customized recording for the people you love—far more in-depth than Amber's mom's message—in which you share your most insightful lessons, memories, and experiences. From there, we will provide you with the recording digitally to ensure it will survive long after you—and your money—are gone.
And don't worry, if this sounds overwhelming or difficult in any way, it's not. Our clients consistently tell us they are surprised about how easy it was, and how quickly they were able to create a truly meaningful gift for the people they love. But most importantly, what they also tell us is that it brings more intention and awareness to how they want to pass on their values, insights, stories, and experiences to the people they love on a day-to-day basis going forward.
Best of all, the Family Wealth Legacy Process is offered at no additional cost to you, since it is part of each plan we create for our clients. And the process of documenting this recording is as easy and convenient as possible: We use a series of helpful questions and prompts, which makes the process both easy and enjoyable. From start to finish, the entire process takes less than an hour.
My favorite part about this process is that most of our clients tell us that going through it helps them rekindle life moments and memories they would otherwise not share with their loved ones. Indeed, this unique process can enrich your family with something far more valuable than any tangible asset you might leave, and instead leave behind a lasting legacy of love.
Life & Legacy Planning
In the end, your family's most precious wealth is not money, but the memories you make, the values you instill, and the lessons you hand down. And left to chance, these assets are likely to be lost forever just like Amber's voicemail from her mother.
That said, recording your Family Wealth Legacy Interview is just a start. To protect and preserve your family's tangible wealth and other assets, you should create a comprehensive estate plan. Yet, we've discovered that “estate planning” is really a misnomer. When done right, it's really about planning for a life you love and a legacy worth leaving by the choices you make today—which is why we call it Life & Legacy Planning.
Your Life & Legacy Plan goes far beyond simply creating documents and then never seeing us again. We will develop a relationship with you and your family that lasts not only for your lifetime, but for the lifetime of your children and their children if that's your wish. And this all starts with our Family Wealth Planning Session. If you'd like to learn more about this process or schedule your appointment, contact us, your local Personal Family Lawyer® today.
This article is a service of Eric D. Cotton, Personal Family Lawyer®. We do not just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you've ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.