I often meet with families regarding issues of planning their wills and trusts. Frankly, it is often a dreaded event for them. The truth is that most are well equipped when it comes to running their business at high-performing levels. But few are equipped to pass on their business.
Similarly, they all typically have some idea of how much wealth they’ll pass on to their children. But few are equipped to discuss how they’ll pass on their legacy.
Their legacy should not be confused with financial wealth. In fact, the more uncertain they are of their legacy, the more uncertain they’ll be in passing on financial wealth.
A legacy is the treasure of a family. Treasure is defined more broadly than money. It is the combination of social, spiritual, financial, and intellectual capital. The more intentional a family has been in building social, spiritual, and intellectual capital, the more likely they can pass on financial capital.
So how do you pass on your legacy? Andy Crouch, in his book Culture Making, describes it in part (paraphrased) as learning to tell the stories of your culture/family and relate them to everyday life.
Tell the story of your family. Go back to the beginning—from birth to the present. Tell the people, ideas, and events that shaped you positively and negatively. These are the rich fabric that make up a legacy. Tell them over and over again.
How well the fabric has been woven will tell us how much it can hold.
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Published September 28, 2010