Our ability to live beyond our years has nothing to do with medical science; we will all live longer than our physical bodies, each of us will leave behind a personal legacy made up of our deeds, our words, our actions and our material goods.
Legacies are passed down many different ways. For some it’s leaving a financial structure in place for their children, a way to make a potentially challenging life easier; for others it’s an endowment - the opportunity to give something back to an institution that was an essential part of their success. For others it’s about leaving a roadmap – a set of rules or guidelines for future generations to live by, a script if you will, for living a life of value.
Regardless of how you plan to accomplish this, in the end, it’s what you leave behind that determines how you are remembered; whether it's wisdom, values, money or direction.
I have a friend whose family is from the old country and have some very definite beliefs on how legacies are created and managed. His father has done well for himself: he arrived here in the early fifties with little money and even less English. He got a job at the bottom and worked his way up to somewhere in the middle. He worked hard for 35 years until he was entitled to his full pension, made sacrifices when they were necessary, saved diligently and invested what he was able along the way in income producing real estate. In the end, he was able to provide a generous income for himself and his wife, and a legacy to leave behind after they were gone.
In their family though, the estate is meant for the grandchildren, not the parents. This has allowed my friend to focus on building his life and opportunities with the understanding that it will be his responsibility to look after his own grandchildren when the time comes. They believe it enables each generation to focus on building a solid foundation for themselves and a life for their family, while also giving them the benefit of more time to build for the future generation. It eliminates the entitlement that is too often a by-product of large inheritances, cash infusions and easy money in general.
So in deciding your own legacy, there are many things to consider: what you want to do, what you are able to do and finally what you are willing to do. There are no right or wrong ways; only the life we lead after we are gone.