Everyone wants to leave their mark on this world, and some leave a larger lasting impression than others.

On a basic level most of us simply want to be there for our families, while leaving some sort of impact behind for future generations. That doesn’t have to mean leaving a billion-dollar company behind. It can simply mean leaving something of a foundation in place that can help contribute to a better world for future generations of your family. 

Financial legacy planning deals with more than just dollars and cents. It’s about recognizing and remembering a lifetime of work for that future generations can learn from and carry on. 

Legacy planning can include providing financial security to support your loved ones, but it’s also about imparting the wisdom and history that built the legacy in the first place. Money is often a major concern for any family, but the size of accounts is just one consideration when passing on a legacy that can stand the test of time.

More Than Just Wealth

Your financial legacy planning is important, but there are more things that need to be contemplated.

One of the main aspects is deciding how you want to administer your assets and to be sure to take into consideration how this impacts your family values, memories from your lifetime, and how it will impact the financial decisions made by future generations

Getting this larger overall picture starts with documenting your core values, beliefs, and principles that have helped guide your life’s path. These documents can act as a guide for your family members – helping them understand the most important foundations on which your legacy is built. 

There are a number of ways to help cement your legacy through an ethical will. You could record family stories and important family memories. Whether this takes the shape of videos or hand-written accounts, these stories will preserve your heritage through future generations. Understand and maintain the traditions within your family so that they can be passed down to the next generations. 

Knowing and understanding the traditions and other memories that underscore your legacy will enable your descendants to have a better grasp on your family’s heritage, and will also allow future generations the ability to connect with their roots. 

Incorporating Financial Strategies

Establishing what’s important to your legacy is an important first step, and it can be used to strengthen the financial wellbeing of future generations, as well.

Just like sharing stories and traditions is crucial, it’s also important to share your financial wisdom and lessons you’ve learned throughout your life with younger family members. 

This can be simple conversations about budgeting and saving, to more complex topics like investing strategies and other forms of responsible wealth management. Some of these lessons may even be taught by setting up trusts or funds that may support educational pursuits by your children or other family members. 

Legacy planning and mindful wealth strategies work in concert together so, for example, to me as a financial advisor, being proactive about teaching others how to structure sound investments is important. 

Being proactive about your financial strategies is also a key to making those intelligent investments. Reacting to immediate financial needs isn’t going to build legacy or wealth, and proactive planning will take some of the stress out of those situations when they arise. 

Setting goals and identifying potential risks – like health issues, loss of income, or other unforeseen events – will set you and your family up for success in the long run by preparing before they happen. A proactive approach will also make it easier to set your family’s budget, and allow you to strategize for the future by making investment and tax planning much easier. 

Defining Mindful Wealth

Financial legacy planning is different for every family, and it can be different for every individual. Whether you’re a billionaire or just trying to carve out some semblance of financial stability for your future generations, understanding your individual position is vital. It’s all about building a safety net for your family, in your situation. 

Responsible spending and other practices can bring this definition into focus, as they can also show the next generation it looks like to create multigenerational wealth. Building mindful wealth in a way that your future self understands is imperative. 

Of course, not everything you earn has to go back into the piggy bank. Part of spending is helping build some of those family memories through things like vacations and other experiences. However, there are ways to accomplish both. 

Mindful wealth is all about not digging yourself into holes with frivolous spending that stretches too far past your means. 

Today’s spending impacts your future legacy, but mindful wealth is balancing those things. This comes from setting your goals for your family and sticking to them, but it’s also important to understand that you can’t plan for everything in the future. 

Importance of Financial Flexibility

Working out a well-thought plan is one thing, but life changes. It’s crucial to implement a plan with structural flexibility so you can make adjustments for the future as your life changes during the present. No one can predict when the random car is going to run through a red light and potentially change your life forever. 

Being able to adapt and adjust one’s financial strategies in response to changing circumstances throughout your life allows for better planning. Implementing the proper strategies is one thing, and it also makes regular reviews and updates of your planning even more important. 

Financial flexibility doesn’t just benefit your family in the case of unforeseen events. This also applies to any other changes that can happen. Maybe your financial goals shift, or maybe priorities in your life change. Having the flexibility in your legacy planning will allow you to make these changes on the fly, or at least without completely overhauling your plans for the futures.

Maintaining a diversified portfolio will help deal with changes in market conditions, and having access to cash reserves in case of emergency is also important. You don’t have to know what unexpected trouble may be lurking around every corner, but you can at least have a plan in place so your world isn’t changed upside down if something happens. 

Passing Along Your Values

We all understand that there is an intricate set of values within each one of us. Everyone tries to hold high the values instilled in themselves while passing them on to further generations. That doesn’t mean they’re hard to define or put a finger on. Taking the time to really identify what’s important to you and your family can have a serious impact on defining your legacy. 

As you raise your children, they are a reflection of you. That doesn’t mean they’re going to turn into a replica of you, but those values you impart will have a lasting impression. 

The environment you provide for those future generations can sometimes give a longer lasting impression on your legacy than any dollar amount. Legacy planning may have a lot to do with the physical things that get passed down from generation to generation, but maintaining the integrity of core values is critical to most of us. 

Planning for your next steps in life is something most families recognize as important, and passing these values to the next generation is important regardless of wealth or class.  

There is a legacy present within all of our family trees – but it’s more than just dollars and cents. Planning with all of that in mind will stretch that legacy even further. 

This blog is part of a series, check out the Resources page for information on financial planning during other life stages, including: Financial Strategies for New & Growing Families, Four Moves Emerging Business Leaders Should Make to Set Themselves Up for Financial Success, and Strategic Retirement Planning for Any Stage in Life.

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