You Don’t Need Money to Leave a Lasting Legacy for Your Loved Ones

By: VGFS
Sunday, April 28, 2019

When you envision leaving a lasting legacy for your loved ones, what comes to mind? Do you think of trust funds and family heirlooms? If you don't have these assets, does it mean that you can't leave a legacy of your own?

The truth is, whether or not you have physical riches, a well-rounded estate plan is about more than money. Below are some ways to pass on a legacy that endures, regardless of your estate size.

Heritage as an inheritance. You or someone you know has most likely used a DNA profiling service. Genetic testing services have erupted in popularity. As humans, we are curious about our origins. This is also why genealogy is a popular hobby. When we trace our familial histories, we discover new parts of ourselves. By gifting younger family members the history of their heritage, you are giving them a wider context in which to consider their own talents, contributions, and place in this world. Passing along DNA analysis results, family lore and family trees, and old photographs are all ways to continue your family’s legacy.

Tell your story. The best person to tell your story is the one and only you. Let a younger family member interview you. What is your earliest memory? Did you live through a historical event? Who do you admire and why? Write down or record the conversation. Whatever you choose to share, you’ll have created a priceless family keepsake with a loved one.

Give while you live. Why not experience the joy of giving while you’re still alive? Gift in ways that enhance your values and beliefs. If education is important to you, open a college savings plan for your grandchild. If you’re passionate about animal rescue, invite your pet-loving niece to volunteer with you. If you do leave an inheritance, ensure that your beneficiaries grasp personal finance and have access to financial planning resources. These gifts are not about the money but the guidance and support you provide. You’ll set up future generations up for success and your values will continue to live on.

Provide a map. Would you leave your family in a strange forest without a map? This is what many do when they lack an estate plan. If you pass without one, your family members will have to guess, scramble, and potentially lock horns about the best way forward. If you’re concerned about getting your will, power of attorney, or living will “perfect,” know that you can always update it. To get started, contact an estate planner or--for a straightforward estate--download free/low-cost forms online. An estate plan prevents confusion, rifts, and he said/she said arguments. Giving your family peace and certainty in the event of your passing will be a comfort to them. Plus, your assets will be divided in a way that you intended.

Live by example. The best legacy of all is living a life worth emulating. Your actions have influence. Live your life with conviction and according to your values. Forgive the relative who did you wrong. Pray with younger relatives and introduce them to your spiritual traditions. Giving generously isn’t about money or things. Define your values, gifts, and beliefs. Then give younger generations the opportunity to witness, understand, and embrace them. Your influence will be felt for generations.

If you’re in the position of honoring the legacy of a loved one or are creating your own, you may need support. Our compassionate funeral directors are always ready and available to assist you. Please reach out to us anytime.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 20 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved one. For more information, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

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