By Yvonne Olivere
An often overlooked component of “planning,” personal and family legacy planning is arguably more valuable than the legal documents in your estate plan. It’s sad to me that family histories, traditions and memories are being forgotten or lost. We can prevent this by documenting our legacy now. But where do we start? I have shoe boxes of pictures and mementos from my childhood, big-haired high school years, courtship years with my husband, and now my own family and children. Organizing and documenting these stories can be overwhelming… Here are few tips on how to get started.
Think of your legacy as a story, because it is
Your story starts with your birth….and there are many chapters thereafter. While there is no way
to capture every single memory, start with the story of you entering this world and work forward from there. Where were you born? Who are your parents? Who are/were your grandparents?Thereafter, talk about your school years, college years, and so forth…
Hint: If you need help, there are also books that can help. For example, “All About Me” is a fill in the blank book.
Consider where you will document and store your story
Are you writing in journal? Is there a folder on your computer that you are putting your pictures and stories in? Make sure someone knows where to find these documents, photos and journals. Have you considered an online legacy site? There are websites that can assist you in putting your pictures, memories and stories in one place. And as long as there is an internet, this personal legacy website can be passed on for generations to come!
Ask a loved one to write a story about you
Ask a brother, sister, friend or parent to write a story about a memory they have of you. Yes it may be embarrassing…but it can be a fun addition to your own perspective!
Incorporate pictures into your legacy and story
Whether you are creating a Word document or journaling in a spiral notebook, try to include pictures in each “chapter” that you document. You will probably have too many pictures to put with each stage or memory, but choose at least one (and don’t give up because it gets overwhelming to pick just one). Annotate or add a description of each picture you include. (If you are using an online legacy website, organize your photos for each chapter. You can even add a voice recording for photos on some websites!)
Include other information in your legacy
This is where you can get creative. I advise clients to include items such as family holiday traditions from your childhood (and now), favorite foods and songs (past and current!), and most influential person in your life (and why). Consider adding other information such as your personal or religious beliefs, biggest lessons from your childhood, and wishes for your own children.
In my estate planning practice, I give my clients tools to help them create their personal and family legacy. Please contact me if you have questions or need help documenting your story! email@example.com or 303-974-5617.
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