As summer wanes, flowers fade, and the fall chill starts to fill the air, our thoughts begin to focus on things ending, rather than beginning. It’s a natural course of events, and as the seasons go, so goes our lives. When you enter the autumn of your life, you begin to think more about what you leave behind rather than what is still ahead of you. It’s normal. We all do it.
In terms of the financial business, many people begin to focus on what wealth they have accumulated, who their beneficiaries are, and who will receive what. People give this serious thought and they put together wills and trusts to assure their intentions are fulfilled. They meet with lawyers, accountants, and financial advisors. But I’d like to ask you to think beyond the obvious for a moment. What you leave behind is not just about material things.
You leave behind many impressions, memories, and gifts or talents you have impressed on those you have touched throughout your life. Therefore, I would encourage you to consider providing a “moral will” for your family and friends in addition to your standard legal documents. You have worked hard throughout your life to achieve your goals. A “moral will” is a document that may help provide an understanding to your family and friends of what those goals were and how you achieved them. It can provide guidance or a wish for how you want your heirs to be successful and celebrate their own lives. It’s your personal story and words of wisdom for those you leave behind and they will cherish every sentence.
The hardest part of putting together this document is just simply to start it. None of us want to think about our own mortality, but if you’ve already taken the step to complete your legal wills or trusts, it should be easier. Unlike a legal document, this is your story and it can take any format that you are comfortable with. It can be a personal letter to each of your beneficiaries. It can be an open letter. It can be a journal or a scrapbook. It can even be a list. All that matters is that it is a heartfelt expression of what truly matters to you.
For example, if I started a list for my family it might include something like this:
Writing and reading are important to me. Not just as skills, but as an art. As technology grows, the arts of putting a pen to paper and writing in a cursive technique are waning. I want my future generations to be able to do this. In an age where everything becomes an upload or download and you can just speak into a device, the basic art of writing can easily become lost. I want you to be able to write and I want you to be able to read what you have written with your own hand. Histories are built on the written word.
- Am I anti-tech? No way! I love the internet and everything that goes with it. I wish it had been around when I was young. All those ideas at your fingertips are a catalyst for the imagination. I want the computer from “Iron Man”, I want the 3-D printer, I want the self-driving car and the time-travelling Delorean, the “Star Trek” transporter, and any other new technology that may be on the horizon or dreamed up in sci-fi programming. I grew up watching the Apollo missions and seeing all kinds of technological advances. As children, we were told of all the wonderful inventions we would have by the year 2000. I want them! And if they don’t come about in my lifetime, I want you to enjoy them in yours and never stop imagining what can be.
As you can see, this example doesn’t focus on my IRA or my savings accounts; it doesn’t focus on my life insurance. It tells the reader something about me personally, and what I wish for the future. Future generations might say, “Hey. Great-Great-Grandma would be excited if I invested in that new technology stock. She would be okay with that. I’m going to check it out and write a list of all the pros and cons!” and they would be correct.
So, as the days become cooler and you look to snuggle up in a comfy chair with a warm drink, take some time to think about leaving a legacy document of this type to your family and friends. Perhaps a letter, maybe a journal, possibly a scrapbook. After all, Christmas won’t be far behind, and I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to something “techie” under my tree.
If you have questions or comments about this article, you may contact Melody Lowe at firstname.lastname@example.org
Securities offered through Sigma Financial Corporation. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Sigma Planning Corporation, a Registered Investment Advisor. Financial Partners, Inc. is an independent of SFC &SPC.