May is Senior Citizen’s Month, a time to reflect and appreciate all the things the seniors in our lives have done for us…what legacy they have left. Whether they are our parents, grandparents, or elderly friends, our seniors have given us so much over the years. But sometimes seeing your loved ones aging or seeing how you’ve aged yourself may remind you of how quickly time passes and how much you wish you could pause life.
When you think about a loved one who has passed away, you probably don’t give much thought to the material things they’ve left you. Maybe you have a piece of their clothing that you sometimes hold close to your heart or a favorite item of theirs displayed proudly on a shelf. But what you value most about that object likely isn’t its monetary worth but the memories it evokes of your loved one and the time you spent together. You wish you could still hear from them, learn from them, and share memories with them.
As your Personal Family Lawyer, I know the value of planning for what happens to your financial assets. But I also know that there is something even more valuable to pass on to your loved ones than money – your stories, lessons, insights, and values. While we might not be able to pause time, there are things we can do to preserve the precious memories and lessons of the people we love.
That’s why I offer a unique service to my clients called a Life & Legacy Interview to help preserve your unique legacy for future generations. The Life & Legacy process is built into all of our plans, and it’s an opportunity to share your love with the ones you care about most, and if you have aging parents or grandparents, the Life & Legacy Interview is an even more important way to preserve their stories and create a cherished memory of their legacy for years to come.
What to Expect During Your Life & Legacy Interview
Life & Legacy Interviews are a key part of my Life & Legacy Planning process. If the idea of giving an interview sounds intimidating, don’t worry – the process is an easy conversation, and most of my clients tell me that their Life & Legacy Interview was their favorite part of the estate planning process and a heart-touching experience.
During your Life & Legacy Interview, we’ll ask you a series of helpful questions and prompts that we plan in advance. Or, you can talk freely about whatever you’d like to share with your loved ones. It’s your interview, so I encourage you to be your authentic self and make it your own. We’ll be there the entire time to guide you through the process.
We’ll record your interview on video, either in-person or remotely, depending on your preference. After the interview is completed, we’ll edit the footage and provide you with a digital recording that can be shared with your family members or kept with your estate planning materials as a special memento of your story and your love for your family.
We’ve built this into all of our plans because we find that while everyone says they intend to document stories and write letters to their loved one’s, very few people ever actually get around to it.
Starting the Conversation with Your Loved Ones
Talking to your aging loved ones about estate planning and the legacy that they’ll leave behind can be difficult or uncomfortable for a lot of people. We all deal with the concept of aging and dying differently. Some of us avoid the topic altogether, and others will make light of it and even joke about “kicking the bucket.” But it’s important to have a conversation about your elder’s wishes and how much it would mean to you for them to plan ahead.
If you aren’t sure how your loved one will respond to the topic, try to come from a vulnerable place, and not from a place of any sort of judgment if they joke about death. Instead, remember that they’re joking because they might be afraid.
Try saying something like, “I know this might be hard to talk about, but it’s something that’s really important to me. If something does happen to you, I want to make sure that we’re able to take care of you, and I know that you wouldn’t want to leave us with a big mess.”
You could also let your loved one know how much you value them, and how much it would mean to you for them to create a Life & Legacy Interview so that you have a recording of them as they are right now before illness or incapacity are even a part of the picture.
By approaching the conversation in a vulnerable way, they’ll likely be more receptive to the idea of planning for their assets and more intentional in how they leave their legacy behind for the ones they care about.
Bringing Families Closer Together
Besides preserving a message for your loved ones, the Life & Legacy Interview is a great time to reconnect with the moments and memories from your life that you might have otherwise forgotten.
In today’s hectic world, it can be hard to live in the moment, but by taking a little time to reflect on where your life has taken you, you’ll remember all that you’ve accomplished and all that you want to share with your loved ones, not just in your Life & Legacy Interview, but every day.
Even after the interview is finished, you’ll likely live your life with more intention and awareness of how you want to pass on your values, insights, stories, and experiences in your day-to-day life. And if a senior member of your family is completing their Life & Legacy Interview, you can feel at ease knowing that no matter what the future holds, you’ll always have a video of your loved one sharing their stories, their hopes, their jokes, and their love with you.
The Importance of Life & Legacy Planning
The Life & Legacy Interview is a wonderful tool for seniors and their families, and I offer it as a complementary service to all of my estate planning clients, young and old. It’s part of my comprehensive Life & Legacy Planning process, which goes beyond creating documents and takes a holistic approach to planning for a life you love and a legacy you’re loved ones will cherish forever.
At the core of Life & Legacy Planning is the understanding that your family’s most precious wealth is not money, but the memories you make, the values you instill, and the lessons you pass down. By planning for your life and legacy, you can ensure that your family’s wealth is preserved and protected for generations to come.
I believe that Life & Legacy Planning is not a one-time event but an ongoing process because it mirrors the ongoing process of your life. By working with an attorney who knows you and has a relationship with you, you make your Life & Legacy Planning as effective as possible and have the opportunity to continue to record your values and wisdom in additional Life & Legacy Interviews as life goes on.
Whether you are growing your family or well into retirement, I work with you to create a plan that evolves over time and adapts to changes in your life and family circumstances.
If you want to pass on more than money to the ones you love and leave them with an even greater gift that they will treasure for generations, give me a call. And if you have a senior loved one, contact me today to see how I can help them not only make a plan for their assets but capture the love and memories they share with you.
This article is a service of Trish Butcher, a Personal Family Lawyer® Firm. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today or click here to schedule a Life & Legacy Planning Session.
The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.