When you think about estate planning, you likely think about devising a plan for the distribution of your estate assets after your death. Traditional estate planning does just that; however, you may want to pass down more than just your material wealth. What about intangible concepts such as your values, beliefs, ideals, and your faith that may have helped guide you over the course of your lifetime? Don’t you want to pass those down to future generations as well? With that in mind, a Vernon Hills legacy planning attorney asks you: “What legacy do you want to leave behind?”
Traditional Estate Planning vs. Legacy Planning
A traditional estate plan focuses on the distribution of estate assets after death. Your estate assets may include real or personal property as well as tangible and intangible assets. Those assets, however, all represent the material wealth you have accumulated over the course of your lifetime. Using traditional estate planning methods, there is no place for deeply held values, ideals, and beliefs that may be just as important to you as those assets – even more important for many people. Traditional estate planning remains important, of course, because you do need a roadmap that can be used to distribute your material wealth when you die. You also need a plan that determines who will control those assets and who will make decisions for you should you become incapacitated at some point in the future. All of that can be addressed in a traditional estate plan. What is not addressed in a traditional estate plan are the values, morals, faith, and beliefs that guided you throughout your lifetime and helped you achieve the material success you have achieved. For that, you need to turn the legacy planning. Legacy planning does not require you to create a separate plan. Instead, legacy planning simply takes traditional estate planning one step further by incorporating tools and strategies aimed at including the legacy you wish to leave behind for future generations.
What Is Your Legacy?
Take a moment to think about the legacy you hope to pass down to your children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. What are the ideals and beliefs that have guided you throughout your lifetime? What is important to you? How can that legacy shape future generations? Once you know what legacy you want to pass down, it is time to weave that legacy into your estate plan. Your legacy planning attorney will help you do just that by using a wide variety of strategies and tools. A Letter of Instruction is a simple and straightforward way to include legacy planning in your estate plan by putting down in writing what you want future generations to know and understand about the beliefs and values that shaped your life. You may also decide to take a more proactive approach by including a trust in your legacy plan. A trust allows you to create terms that can directly reflect your values and beliefs. For example, the trust terms may stipulate that the assets held in the trust may only be used to pay for educational expenses incurred by beneficiaries. You might even require beneficiaries to attend a specific school or pursue a select area of higher education, such as medicine or law. You can also use charitable gifting tools within your plan to help further your faith and beliefs. Gifting to a church, for example, clearly shows future generations that your faith was important to you.
The ways in which you may choose to incorporate legacy planning in your estate plan are virtually limitless. Talk to your Illinois legacy planning attorney about the legacy you want to leave behind and how you can accomplish that goal.
Contact Vernon Hills Legacy Planning Attorney
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding the legacy you wish to leave behind, contact the experienced legacy planning attorneys at Hedeker Law, Ltd. by calling (847) 913-5415 to schedule an appointment.