Legacy Planning 101

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Grandparents with granddaughter out in garden

Many of us have taken the important step of creating an estate plan.  We have our wills, trusts and powers of attorneys tucked safely away somewhere that our loved ones can find.  We have carefully worked with our financial advisors, attorneys and accountants to craft a tax efficient estate plan that will transfer our financial assets. But what about all those other things that are important to us? 

I had the great fortune of growing up 5 minutes away from my grandparents. I spent countless hours cooking Sunday dinners with my grandmother, going to work with my grandfather, and taking family vacations with the entire clan. Because I was able to spend so much time with them, I knew what they valued and what was important to them.

We live in a day and age where families are spread across the globe. This distance makes it harder for one generation to pass its history and values to the next.  This is where a legacy plan comes into play.  A legacy plan communicates your values, wishes and memories, as well as financial directions.  Think of a legacy plan as a way to pass along not just your financial wealth but the things that money cannot buy – your family’s history, values and ideals.

A legacy plan can take all different shapes and forms. For example, you could write a letter to your grandchild on his or her first birthday sharing an informal family history that sets the stage for your dreams for future generations.  It can convey your values and wishes regarding the following matters:

  • Money management and investment philosophies. You have worked hard over your lifetime to accumulate your wealth. Your work ethic and money spending habits may be different than your children’s or grandchildren’s. In your legacy plan, you can explain your views on spending, saving, investing and donating. 


  • A lasting charitable legacy. The legacy plan is an opportunity to explain your family’s philanthropic values.  You may have a charity that is near and dear to your heart. Perhaps your family members share your same charitable passions or have their own charitable causes they wish to support. Your legacy plan can share your wishes for financial and volunteer support of charities.


  • The future of a family business. Perhaps you own a business and want to record how it has evolved during your time as owner. You can describe the challenges you faced and the successes you had. You can share wisdom that only you as the owner have.  It is also an avenue to share your vision for the future and the core values that make up your business.


Most estate plans are carefully crafted by attorneys and CPAS. They are not designed to hand down the experiential wealth and wisdom that should accompany the assets. Estate plans designate the beneficiaries of assets and how they are to receive them. A good legacy plan is something very personal to you. It is an exercise that benefits you, the author, and the successive generations that will read it.  It is a way for you to reflect on your life and the values that are important to you. It is a venue for you to share your lifetime of wisdom in a way that instructs your children and future generations on how to be good stewards of your wealth and values.

Marifran Georgis, AVP, Wealth Advisor and Trust OfficerIf you have questions relating to creating your own legacy plan, we at the Alpine Bank Trust and Investment Group would be happy to help.

Marifran Georgis, J.D., is an Assistant Vice President, Wealth Advisor and Trust Officer at Alpine Trust & Investment Group.

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