Perhaps no estate plan is truly complete without a Legacy Letter.
A Legacy Letter may pass along family stories and life lessons, and teach something about the meaning of your life that can be helpful to, and appreciated by, future generations. A Legacy Letter may also be used to share your values, traditions, beliefs, faith, wisdom, love and forgiveness.
About three-quarters of baby boomers and their elderly parents agree that parents do not have a duty to leave a monetary inheritance to their children, according to a 2012 study sponsored by Allianz Life Insurance Company. However, both boomers and their parents believe that family stories should be passed down and that “future generations remember my parents and what mattered to them”, reports Allianz.
Writing a Legacy Letter may seem like a daunting task, but it need not be. Your Legacy Letter can be as short or as long as you wish. The key is to just get started! Not only is it uncertain as to when mental incapacity or death may strike, it’s also good to give yourself time to make additions and changes to your Legacy Letter.
Ask a friend or relative who has undertaken any genealogical research or lost a parent and inquire as to whether he or she would have loved to have found a Legacy Letter from an ancestor. I’m confident that the answer will not only be “answered”, but “exclaimed”: “Yes!!!” There’s little doubt that a Legacy Letter will be one of the most precious gifts that you can provide to your children and generations yet to be born.
Your Legacy Letter need not be fancy, but needs to be from your heart. To figure out what to write, imagine what you would have liked to read in a Legacy Letter from one of your ancestors. Also imagine that your Legacy Letter is your last communication with your loved ones.
If any of your personal possessions are connected to, or relevant to, any of the thoughts and stories that you express in your Legacy Letter, be certain to describe the item, and where to find it. Your Legacy Letter will give new meaning to that particular worldly good and make it a tangible point of connection with you after you are gone.
For each worldly good that is connected to a story in your Legacy Letter, it is important that you attach a signed and dated writing to your Minnesota Will indicating whom you wish to receive that item. Specifying in writing “who is to receive what” may remove a source of conflict among your heirs later. Your heirs typically will honor your wishes, so make your wishes known.
Store your completed Legacy Letter with your estate plan documents.
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