A substantial family legacy at little or no cost.
This is an article about leaving the best possible low-cost legacy. Family stories, mementos and keepsakes can be important to people than a cash inheritance. In this day and age it is easier than ever before to take photos, copy videos and make notes about things, people and events. And why make the next generation repeat any family tree research you have done?
It is really not all about the money, though it is easy to turn families against each other with a badly thought through or tactless Last Will. We can help there too. Stories that are passed down verbally tend to fade away with the passing of an ageing relative. But a digital video record can last, with careful tending as technologies develop over the years.
Here are a few steps you can take to create a non-financial family legacy:
1. Record Your Family Stories.
Write them down and ideally make an audio or video recording. Write careful notes on the backs of photos to preserve memories (but beware of penetrating inks). Those of us with bad writing can type on sticky labels. A photo with details of the people involved, the date and circumstances in which the photo was taken.
2. Make An Ethical Will.
Sharing your family values can be among the most treasured keepsakes. Consider writing an Ethical Will, which is a document that passes on your life story and personal values. An Ethical Will can take any form such as a video or a letter that is included with your Will.
3. Talk About Your Legacy Keepsakes.
Consider who would value your keepsakes, especially with a little of their history. You can remember a far wider class of people this way without upsetting close family. Just find out which of your family value which items to avoid later conflict. Talk with family members individually and as a group. With the most popular items you may need to set up a points system (say 10 for really important to 0 for not interested) and give people a limited number of points (votes) to “spend” and perhaps make it a secret ballot to allow you to make fine judgements on in-demand objects.
Value would need to be factored in too. Come to an agreement then put it in writing. And if you work out a better system, please let us know! A common approach is each relative gets to pick one item in turn. Some of your heirs may not be happy with your decisions, but they’re less likely to be unhappy with each other if they do the picking! Again, value ought to play a part and valuable items probably should be dealt with separately.
4. Keep the Legacy Memorandum With Your Will.
Create a legacy memorandum to keep with your Will that details how you want to divide property with sentimental value. Why not add a photo of each item?
5. Avoid Favouritism
If you have favoured family members, show your affection while you are alive to make your division of property more equitable. If you want to leave a legacy that fosters harmony in your family, treat them as equally as possible. If that is not appropriate, try to ensure that the “losers” understand why.
6. Choose Your Executor Wisely.
Remember you’re giving power to one or two people often a family members. In many cases, this is absolutely fine, especially if there is no potential conflict or Inheritance Tax issues. This is the area where a firm like ours with in depth Inheritance Tax knowledge and a strong desire to minimise conflict may be beneficial to all concerned, despite the fees!
7) Have a look at our Family Bank Trust.
For many people whose main asset is their home, the family bank is the perfect way to maximise their contribution to future generations.
8) Consider the Peace of Mind Service.
Make sure your planning is secure and that you reconsider things regularly in the light of changes in circumstances, tax and the Law.
We would like to thank Passare.com for the article which inspired this blog