The Rest Of Your Estate: Beyond Finances

Every good estate planning lawyer thinks about legacy.

What else is an estate, after all? The estate you leave behind to your children, grandchildren, or other loved ones is what remains of you, beside their memories.

While finances can be at the center of an estate attorney’s job, there is so much more to a legacy.

Some aspects of this are material, perhaps: photographs, home movies, personal letters, holiday cards. Aside from jewelry and fine china and fancy clothes, there may be keepsakes whose worth is entirely measured in sentimental value. Ornaments. Costumes. Goofy reminders of treasured inside jokes.

But what else from your legacy will you leave behind?

A recent op-ed on the website of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance dove into this idea with intriguing results.

Laura A. Roser, founder and CEO of Paragon Road, wrote about the intangible estate assets.

For most of us, we want to have our journeys remembered. We want our descendants to think about our values, our ethics, and our personalities.

Roser writes about an Emory University study which showed that “kids who know about their family’s past are more empathetic, have better coping skills and have higher self-esteem.”

Certainly, genealogical history and family stories can contribute to that lasting legacy.

More often, however, people are passing along their wisdom through memoirs, autobiographies, interviews, and other means of storytelling.

One aspect of this can be intellectual assets – your concepts, business knowledge, or other intellectual property. This may be your training and schooling, as well as your professional skills.

Another aspect may be character assets. This may involve your spiritual or religious beliefs, your stories, or your philanthropic ideas.