Legacy Planning – A Holistic Approach

While “Estate Planning” is the process of planning to pass assets from one generation to the next, “Legacy Planning” is the next generation of Estate Planning. Estate Planning is the starting point, but Legacy Planning takes it beyond the basics. Legacy Planning recognizes that we are more than the material wealth we have acquired. Our material wealth is just one part of the equation. When we leave this life, we will leave more behind for our children. Perhaps more important than the material wealth is our value system, our guidance, and our protection. While we cannot stay with our families after we are gone, we can pass on our values and continue our guidance and our protection.

We can do this with a Family Wealth Trust. A Family Wealth Trust passes on our legacy, both our material and our experiential wealth. But, it does more than just hand our loved ones a pile of cash. It protects them. There are two levels of protection in a Family Wealth Trust. The first level, a Family Access Trust, provides divorce protection by keeping a child’s inheritance separate from his or her other assets. However, the beneficiaries have unfettered access to the assets.

Here are some of the risks that the Family Access Trust would protect against:

o Your daughter marries someone who sees her as his meal ticket. When she puts her foot down, he divorces her, seeking one-half of the inheritance you worked hard to provide her.

o Your spouse remarries and then succumbs to cancer. His or her new spouse or significant other seeks to take the nest egg which you worked hard to build for your family.

While giving your beneficiaries unfettered access may seem appropriate for mature, wise beneficiaries, divorce is not the only risk they face in today’s world. If you are interested in greater protection, there’s the Family Sentry Trust. The Family Sentry Trust has the divorce protection of the Family Access Trust, but adds another layer of creditor protection and management. With this trust, you can protect your loved ones and their inheritance from creditors.

Here are some of the additional risks that the Family Sentry Trust would protect against:

o One of your children is financially irresponsible, racks up a huge amount of credit card debt and the credit card issuers and their attorneys are seeking to attach his or her assets.

o An intoxicated, disoriented person walks out into traffic in front of your son, who is unable to avoid her. She files suit against him.

o Your daughter calls UPS to pick up a package from her home. The UPS delivery person slips on the steps and files suit against your daughter.

o Your son develops a mental illness and, while not legally incapacitated, often makes imprudent decisions.

o Your son’s business fails and he is forced to file bankruptcy.

Risk is a part of life. But, just as you try to shield your spouse and children from risks during life, with a Legacy Plan you can still shield them from risk, and provide them with your guidance after you are gone. A qualified estate planning attorney who focuses his or her practice on Legacy Planning can help you achieve your goals.

Build a Lasting Healthy Legacy

I know that people talk all the time about how we start looking like our pets or vice-a-versa and then we start to notice and think that is indeed true. It goes so much deeper than that, it’s about building a healthy legacy.

I notice that families all seem to be similar. Whether they are short, tall, big, small, families, just like their pets start to look and act like each other in undeniable ways.

It is really up to the leader of the family to take control and set a healthy example and offer healthy choices for meals and in general. This may be a parent, a grandparent or a care taker but either way they are setting up a legacy and starting a pathway to a healthy legacy or an unhealthy legacy.

So much of the time people don’t have a clue on what is right and that many times is due to the media, just plain old peer pressure, or the pressure from kids wanting to keep up with what everyone has or is doing.

First and foremost is that we are setting an example for the next generation, look at your self and decide if that is the legacy you would like to leave. Is it one of health or disease?

Keeping in mind that putting more in than is going out is a recipe for weight gain. We need to look at the different ways of burning off calories throughout the day, how to fit in regular exercise and how to eat healthier.

The most important thing I see repeatedly is that so many of us need to turn off the TV. Honestly 4 hours a day of TV watching by the average American is just a waste of time. Heck, that’s more than we watch in a week.

Schedule in a work out and make it a priority in your life. Exercise burns calories, raises metabolism, burns fat, reduces cholesterol, increases bone and muscle density, improves circulation and flexibility and the list goes on and on.

Take regular breaks from the desk at work or at home, go outside, stretch, walk do anything but look at a computer screen. Speaking of eyes, look away outside preferably at a distance from your computer screen when ever you get a chance.

Stop watching the evening news; they get all of their information from the paper anyways. By choosing to read the paper, we decide on what news we let in, what we need to know and the best part is that we get to leave the useless, negative information out, we save time by not sitting through endless commercials and useless stories that don’t concern us.

Make the kids go outside and play. That’s what we all did when the diabetes and obesity levels were much lower. So many kids sit in front of computers, video games, TV sets it is just a crying shame. Get the kids involved in sports or an outside activity.

Read the labels on the food you serve your family, know what to look for and if you are not sure, ask someone who knows. Know the good fats from the bad and how much sodium is too much.

When you go to the grocery store shop around the perimeter of the grocery area where the fresh, healthy food items are typically located, always buy organic products but look at the label first.

Eat slower and don’t drink too much with your meal. Fill stomach 1/2 full with food, 1/4 with fluid (warm or room temperature) and 1/4 empty for digestion, this will allow for proper processing and assimilation of the food we eat.

Last but certainly not least, make sure and BE what you want to SEE. If you set a healthy example for young ones, then they will most likely be more health conscious. Discontinue ingesting fast foods and see how fast health improves.