When most people think about estate planning, they focus on creating a plan that will ensure their assets are passed down according to their wishes at the end of their life. Take a moment though to think about the things you really want to pass down to future generations. Is it really just tangible assets you want to pass on to your children and grandchildren? What about the intangible ideals, philosophies, and beliefs that make you who you are? Aren’t those equally important – if not more important – to pass down? Legacy wealth planning is designed to help ensure that everything you want to pass down, gets passed down to future generations.
Do I Need a Completely New Plan?
No. Legacy planning does not take the place of your existing estate plan, but adds to that plan by focusing on things that are typically overlooked in traditional estate planning. A traditional estate plan focuses on protecting, growing, and eventually distributing the tangible assets you acquire over the course of your lifetime. While traditional estate planning remains necessary, it does have its limitations. For example, your traditional estate plan can help you plan for the end of your life by creating a roadmap for distributing your material wealth after you are gone; however, there is no place in that plan to focus on the values, morals, faith, and beliefs that have guided you throughout your lifetime and helped you reach the material success you have achieved. As you undoubtedly know, those core values, investing philosophies, religious beliefs, and guiding principles are far more valuable to your beneficiaries than tangible assets which is why legacy planning is so important.
How Does Legacy Wealth Planning Work?
The first, and most important step, in legacy planning is to decide what you want your legacy to be. Ask yourself what beliefs, philosophies, and values helped you to become the person you are today. What do you believe is important in life? What core beliefs have guided you throughout your life? What philosophies have you used in your career or when investing money? What do you believe has helped you in business and/or in amassing your estate? Most importantly, what do you hope future generations learn from you? These are the things to think about when you decide to include legacy planning in your estate plan.
Exactly how you incorporate your legacy into your estate plan is something only your legacy planning attorney can help you decide; however, there are numerous options. One common legacy planning tool is a trust. As the Settlor of the trust, you have the ability to use the trust terms you create to weave aspects of your legacy into the trust. For instance, if a belief in the importance of higher education is a core belief of yours, you could establish an education trust. Then include terms to ensure that assets held in the trust can only be used to pay for post-secondary educational expenses. If your faith is a vital part of who you are and how you live your life, you could also use a trust to continue to financially support your faith long after you are gone. Of course, your Last Will and Testament can also be a legacy planning tool when used to make outright gifts to charities that are close to your heart. Finally, drafting a Letter of Instructions is a straightforward method of passing down your legacy within your estate plan. A Letter of Instruction, as the name implies, is an estate planning tool that allows you to provide guidance and instruction to loved ones. Although not legally binding, a Letter of Instructions can be an excellent way to let future generations know how you hope they will use your gifts to build their own legacy.
Contact Illinois Legacy Wealth Planning Attorneys
For additional information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding legacy wealth planning in the State of Illinois, contact the experienced legacy wealth planning attorneys at Hedeker Law, Ltd. by calling (847) 913-5415 to schedule an appointment.
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