You likely understand the need for comprehensive Estate Planning and the importance it plays in your life. You may not, however, be familiar with the concept of Legacy Planning. Legacy Planning lets you leave behind much more of who you are and what made you the person you are today. A better understanding of how you can benefit from Legacy Planning is the best way to convince you of its importance. Toward that end, the Los Angeles legacy planning attorneys at the Collins Law Firm explain the difference between estate planning and legacy planning.
Estate Planning vs. Legacy Planning
If you already have an estate plan in place, the good news is that you can incorporate legacy planning into that existing plan without the need to create an entirely new plan. The reason for this is that legacy planning does not take the place of your existing estate plan. Instead, it adds to that plan by focusing on things that are typically overlooked in traditional estate planning and incorporating tools and strategies aimed at including the legacy you wish to leave behind for future generations. A traditional estate plan focuses on the distribution of estate assets after death. Your estate assets may include real or personal property as well as tangible and intangible assets. Those assets, however, all represent the material wealth you have accumulated over the course of your lifetime.
Using traditional Estate Planning methods, there is no place for deeply held values, ideals, and beliefs that may be just as important to you as those assets – even more important for many people. Traditional Estate Planning remains important, of course, because you do need a roadmap that can be used to distribute your material wealth when you die. You also need a plan that determines who will control those assets and who will make decisions for you should you become incapacitated at some point in the future. All of that can be addressed in a traditional estate plan. What is not discussed in a traditional estate plan are the values, morals, faith, and beliefs that guided you throughout your lifetime and helped you achieve your material success. For that, you need to turn to legacy planning.
What Will Your Legacy Be?
Before you can decide how you want to incorporate your legacy into your estate plan, you need to take some time to decide what you want your legacy to be. What are the ideals and beliefs that have guided you throughout your lifetime? What philosophies have guided your career? Is your faith one of your core values? How can your legacy shape future generations? Once you know what legacy you want to pass down, it is time to weave that legacy into your estate plan. Your legacy planning attorney will help you do just that by using a wide variety of strategies and tools.
For example, you may decide to include a trust in your legacy plan. A trust allows you to create terms directly reflecting your values and beliefs. For example, the trust terms may stipulate that the assets held in the trust may only be used to pay for educational expenses incurred by beneficiaries. You might even require beneficiaries to attend a specific school or pursue a select area of higher education, such as medicine or law. You can also use charitable gifting tools within your plan to help further your faith and beliefs. Gifting to a church, for example, clearly shows future generations that your faith was important to you while leaving behind a sizeable donation to one of the many not-for-profit environmental groups shows your commitment to the environment. Finally, a Letter of Instruction is a simple and straightforward way to include legacy planning in your estate plan by putting down in writing what you want future generations to know and understand about the beliefs and values that shaped your life.
Contact Collins Law Group
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions about Legacy Planning, be sure to consult with an experienced Los Angeles legacy planning attorney. Contact the Collins Law Firm by calling (310) 677-9787 to register for one of our FREE estate planning workshops.