Your will is more than a simple legal document with instructions about what to do with your estate. It is a piece of paper that can shape your legacy for years to come.

Today I want to bring your attention to some issues that will help you think through what you want your will to do from the perspective of shaping your legacy after you’re gone. It’s smart to have a firm grasp on these issues before you sit down with an attorney and get elbow-deep in the legalese.


Using your will to create a legacy: What to consider

Take care of the essentials. You know that you should select a fair and competent individual to be executor, and that you need to name loving and responsible people as guardians of your minor children. As you know, the court decides for you if you haven’t decided for yourself. These are two areas you want to have complete control over. You should also be aware of what’s legal where you live, so that your wishes comply with state law.

Be intentional about who merits your money. Your assets are your assets. They are not assets that belong to your children that you happen to be in control of now. If you want to give money to charitable organizations and that results in a smaller amount of money going to your children, then that’s your right. If you believe that one of your children will squander the money, don’t leave it to them at all, or consider setting up trusts outside of the will that will help them manage the money. Again, you choose who gets your money.

Determine where your money can do good. An endowment or a large lump sum donation could be life-changing to a charitable organization, sustaining it and allowing it to carry out its mission. Alternatively, smaller amounts spread out across several organizations can also have a great impact. If you’ve been a regular donor for a while to one particular institution, speak with someone there and ask what they need and how you can help.

Remember your legacy goes beyond money. “Legacy” can sometimes feel like a code word for “money,” but it’s not. Instead, it’s about creating an impact on the world that lasts beyond your final day. I believe a big part of that lies in passing down the values that you cherish to the generations under you. How you choose to handle your estate upon your death can reinforce those values and act as an example of the type of person you are. By creating a will that gives generously to make the world a better place, it shows you care about others and you value giving.

Update and revise regularly. I’ve seen some unfortunate situations where someone dies and because their will wasn’t reviewed and updated, their assets went where they wouldn’t have wanted them to go. Whether that’s an ex-spouse or Uncle Sam, it’s a situation that can be avoided if you remember to review your will regularly and make sure it still fits with your life and your goals. This is important because inheritances and taxes are affected by law, and laws can (and do) change.


Leave a lasting legacy

Helping people leave a legacy is what my team and I do at Renn Wealth Management Group. To schedule an assessment of your financial situation, contact us today. We can help you accomplish your financial goals.