September 22, 2014

Greetings! I trust that this will find you well and enjoying life.

When we talk about inheritances, generally we think first about assets and real property. However, a recent survey found that 86 percent of baby boomers and 74 percent of Americans 72 and older believe that documenting their family history is the most important legacy that can be passed on to heirs.

Have you considered what family stories and memories your children will remember about your parents and grandparents after you pass away? They may not realize it now, but one of the greatest gifts you can pass on to your children and grandchildren are your memories. Consider writing down memoirs of your childhood so there is a recorded history that can be passed down through generations. This could even be a fun project to share with a child or grandchild. If you don’t own a computer, or prefer to write on paper, recruit a younger member of your family to type up your handwritten memoirs, and even scan old photos into the document. An electronic version will allow you to disseminate your stories among all family members instead of relying on just one person to maintain the family legacy.

Another interesting finding from the same survey was that 64 percent of baby boomers and 58 percent of seniors also consider family keepsakes and heirlooms to be key inheritance items. For example, cherished wedding and engagement rings, the family silver and even framed family photos are items that may not have made your estate plan, so consider now who you want to inherit them. Often, we hear people regard some trinket in their household as “the only thing I have to remember my grandparents.” Looking around your home now, doesn’t it seem silly that with all that you own, your loved ones wouldn’t keep more to remember you by?

Catalogue objects by treasured memories. For example, if you and your daughter used to bake cookies when she was a child, perhaps inscribe a favorite phrase or family cookie recipe on the rolling pin you used to use. This is exactly the type of item that may be discarded once you pass away, but with some thought and ingenuity, you could make it a treasured keepsake. Consider other household items, including photos, with the same sense of nostalgia. Perhaps box up a collection of these types of family treasures for each of your children, grandchildren and other loved ones. My mother did this for me and my siblings and I consider it to be invaluable.

Talk to family members to determine their favorite memories to help guide your efforts. For example, you may be surprised to discover that your son would like some of your jewelry to use as gifts for his daughters as they grow up, while one of your daughter’s favorite memories centers on a baseball caught at a game she attended with her father.

If you have questions or comments about this or any other financial issue don’t hesitate to call, it would be great to speak with you. And I want to add that we appreciate your referring us to your friends and family.

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