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October 12, 2012
It should come as little surprise that Baby Boomers are evolving the notion of what it means to leave a legacy for those they love. A growing number of retirees are sharing life histories, ethical wills and video recordings to give their children and grandchildren a more complete understanding of their lives. This sharing of values, wisdom and accomplishment is being encouraged by some financial planners to complement traditional estate planning.
People are conveying their personal legacy in a number of different styles. They can be brief or book-length, and may include audio, video and photos. Whether it be in the form of an ethical will – a document sometimes referred to as a legacy letter or family love letter that provides a heartfelt personal message beyond the financial particulars.
These projects can be handled on your own, or you can seek the guidance of an expert. Paul Wilson, a retired psychiatrist in Bethesda, Md., decided to write a memoir to convey a better sense of who he was in his earlier life to his children and grandchildren. It’s something he wishes his own grandparents would have provided for him. He expects it to be close to 60 pages when complete, and is considering having it self-published to achieve a more polished final product. But regardless of the final product, the 80-year-old Wilson has found great pleasure and personal development in the process.
As a result of the growing interest in this area, more websites and books about ethical wills and other forms of personal legacies have arisen, in addition to entrepreneurial firms to help compile them. For example, the self-publishing house Author Solutions created a firm called Legacy Keepers a year ago. Drawing on a network of personal historians who conduct telephone or in-person interviews, Legacy Keepers turns the thoughts and recollections of customers into keepsake books or video and audio files. List prices range from $975 to $5,000.
Members of the Association of Personal Historians also offer personal legacy services through small businesses with names like Celebrations of Life, Looking Back for the Future and Your Story Here Video Biography.
To learn more about leaving your legacy in the form of an ethical will, contact attorney Marc H. Wander.
Marc H. Wander is a partner of the Bloomfield Hills law firm of Witzke, Berry, Carter &Wander, PLLC. Marc has been licensed to practice law in Michigan since 1992. Marc’s practice is devoted to estate planning and business succession planning. Marc is a member of the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan and is a prior Chairperson of the Oakland County Bar Association Tax Committee. He is a frequent continuing education speaker to insurance agents, financial advisors, CPA’s and financial industry organizations. He has also been heard on WJR Radio. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarcWander