What Will Your Legacy be to Family, Friends, & Community?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary one of the definitions of legacy is “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.”

Legacies can include gifts of money and property and, just as important, the story of our lives, the values we tried to live by, the lessons we learned, what we started and hope others will continue. Creating a legacy statement, or ethical will, is your opportunity to pass down lessons you have learned during your life. 

We all wish to be remembered. What is your legacy? What is most important? What really matters? What story are you telling? What story do you want people to tell after you’re gone? What impact will you leave behind? What values have you lived by and how have they guided you to this moment in your life?  Your Story is your legacy!

Legacy Statements — aka Ethical Wills

A legacy statement is a personal document that you create to communicate your values, experiences, and life lessons to your family, friends and perhaps your community. By leaving a legacy statement, you will be leaving something meaningful behind, so your children, grandchildren and others—and future generations—can learn from you and remember your stories after you are gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Should I Write a Legacy Statement?

Leave your heirs something more valuable than your estate: LOVE!

  • It may help you identify what you value most and what you stand for.

  • By articulating what you value now, you can take steps to ensure the continuation of those values for future generations.

  • You may learn a lot about yourself in the process of writing a legacy statement.

  • It may help you come to terms with your own mortality by creating something of meaning that will live on after you are gone.

  • It can provide a sense of completion in your life.

  • If you don’t tell your stories and the stories from your parents and grandparents, no one else will and they will be lost forever.

  • Leave your heirs something more valuable than your estate: LOVE!

 

Create a Legacy Statement

Your legacy statement is a written, audio, or video record of what you hope to pass on to the next generation.

Your legacy statement is non-binding and different from your legally-binding will that distributes your material possessions. Your legacy statement is an account of the things that mattered most in your life, the lessons you learned and the values you cherish most. Your legacy statement can also provide “permission” to the next generation to take different paths or explore new ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Online Examples and Tips for Writing Your Legacy Statement

The Ethical Will: Life Is About More Than Your Possessions: Don’t wait until you are on your deathbed to do this. As soon as you articulate your values, suddenly you start to live your life more intentionally. Especially if you share it. Information from NextAvenue.org

Ethical Will Examples Written by people at different stages of life, from age 29 to almost 100. These example may give you inspiration for your own legacy statement. Information from celebrationsoflife.net

Articles from Everplans, an online personal document storage company. Although a commercial enterprise, Everplans provides free information and resources about end of life planning. You might find the following articles helpful in creating your own legacy statement:

  

"I am not always good and noble.

I am the hero of this story, but I have my off moments." -P.G. Wodehouse 

"Legacy writing is a way of documenting your life experiences, values, and opinions to share with others. It can be a cherished gift to family and loved ones, and healing for the writers themselves."-Andrew Weil, MD

“If you know when you have enough, you are wealthy, 

If you carry your intentions to completion, you are resolute,

If you live a long and creative life, you will leave an eternal legacy”

– Lao Tzu Chinese philosopher