We spend our time building a life for ourselves and our families. Many of us subscribe to the proverb that a good person leaves an inheritance for our children’s children. Typically, people do not plan at all. In the Black community, 70% of people do not have a complete estate plan. As an estate planning attorney, my experience challenges that number! I see many of the wills that are filed and recognize that many are not complete plans at all.
I will admit, we see many wills that are created on the death bed in an effort to minimize the disruption and confusion that is anticipated upon death. In more cases than not, the hastily prepared will is not an adequate plan. I would also suggest that this may create more confusion than it solves.
When we look at what we pass on through a narrow lens, we overlook many things. I strongly encourage people to take the time to create a complete picture, which looks beyond the day of passing and includes our children’s children in the plan.
In building a legacy, we pass on more than money. The capital that we provide is social, spiritual, as well as financial. The financial capital is a resource that we provide to impact the social and spiritual capital.
In this current day, it is evident how the love of money can impact motivation, ambition and values. If we can encourage and reward service, generosity and community, in addition to achievement, we can shape the generations that follow.
Leaving money without instilling values may corrupt. I often say that money evaporates without systemic support to build and maintain. I encourage legacy building with real property acquisition that increases in value and becomes a generational asset. I encourage providing resources for education, not just for education’s sake, but for impact. I encourage supporting our heirs to walk in the gift and live in the purpose for which they are created.
While building financial wealth and an impactful legacy, it is essential to convey to future generations that giving back and providing service to our community is necessary for us to grow as a community and society. I believe that we are not intended to be narcissistic or hedonistic. As a person of faith, I believe that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves. That is a lesson that we can teach by leaving a legacy that incentivizes service and giving.
As I encourage the utilization of trusts in estate planning, I encourage folks to consider charitable giving as a component of their Trusts that are income producing. Charitable giving not only provides support for our community, it also defrays some of the taxes that would be imposed upon the Trust. We can provide an opportunity for our heirs to make decisions about doing well and good, but also remembering to serve.
It is our responsibility to support our children and our children’s children to ensure they have the resources necessary to be contributing members of the community. That goes far beyond finances. We are blessed to be a blessing. We should not take for granted the depth and the breadth of the blessing by limiting it just to the financial impact. Let us be financially impactful in our social and spiritual legacy, as well.