Often, we hear the word legacy, and we automatically associate this word with an inheritance. When speaking to clients about their estate plan needs, I use this term to demonstrate that all their hard work, their fortune and their wise choices can be summarized into one word, legacy. The meaning of legacy according to Webster’s dictionary is “as a gift or a bequest, that is handed down, endowed or conveyed from one person to another. It is something descendible one comes into possession of that is transmitted, inherited, or received from a predecessor. It is to cause or allow something originating from an ancestral source to spread between people or provide something freely and naturally.” That one word is rather powerful, don’t you think? It sums up a person’s entire life in one word. Let us put this word in perspective, if you were to die today what would your legacy be? Would you have a legacy that would be something that you are proud of and excited to leave to your family or loved ones?
Would it be everything you hoped it would be? When we put this in perspective it is thought provoking. It is my belief that most people go throughout their lives seeking to improve their lives, the lives of their family and leaving a mark in this world. We invest approximately eighty years of our lives working towards our legacy. Now let me ask another question “Who would you leave it to?” Who would you bestow that privilege on? What if I told you that, if you fail to plan, you could potentially leave all your legacy to the U.S. Government? Or worse yet to that one relative you know would not cherish it. We have all heard the adage “those who fail to plan, plan to fail”. If you fail to plan who you will transfer your legacy to then it may end up in the most unfortunate of hands. It may end up in the hands of an individual that would never appreciate all your hard work. Let us be honest your legacy is tantamount to your blood, sweat and tears. It is important to plan for the future. This is the funny thing about life it throws us curve balls all the time. We may always think we have time to plan later but later may turn into never. That is why it is important to be proactive on your journey of life. It is important that you leave an instruction manual for your legacy. Did you know when you set up an estate plan you have control over all aspects of your legacy?
You get to determine who, what where and when. You have the power to secure your legacy through proper planning. An estate plan is a legal strategy that you put together. Most people think an estate plan is simply a will or trust and that is it. An estate plan is much more than that. You put documents in place in case you become unable to making decisions on your own behalf. Who do you trust to honor your wishes? Who do you think will follow your plan? Often people think an estate plan is simply for once you have passed away. That is simply not true. Your estate plan is for all facets of your life. Did you know that you could use an estate plan to become creditor proof? Did you know that you could designate a person to make medical decisions and a completely different person to manage your money? The beauty of a well thought out estate plan is that you have the power of choices. You get to choose your strategy; you get to choose your legacy.
Rachel M. Alvarez, ESQ.
The Alvarez Law Firm, A Professional Association