I remember being so nervous almost 16 years ago when I was just about to get married. I felt a great sense of responsibility, and I wanted to be a good man and a good husband. A few hours before my wedding, I called my grandparents and asked them for their advice on how to have a good marriage.
My Dad’s Mom told me, “A family that prays together stays together.”My Mom’s parents told me, “Never go to bed mad.”
As I write this article, I’m happy to report that I am approaching my 16th wedding anniversary to my beautiful bride, and I’m so grateful that she has put up with me for all these years.
My Dad’s Mom passed away years ago. And my Mom’s Mom passed away about two years ago. I’m grateful for their wisdom, but I wish they would have written down some of the things they had learned during their life.
While people make all kinds of plans and preparations to leave money, to simplify or to maximize their estates, they forget the most valuable pieces of their legacies: their personal stories of their triumphs and greatest achievements. Oftentimes, all that is left are the pictures of people’s lives, the careers they had, the dates and times they lived, but their stories are lost.
I know the Bible speaks about leaving a financial legacy, and I understand that importance, but the financial inheritance is actually the easier part. What’s not so easy is taking the time to sit down and share your story. Today, the process is getting easier because of online blogs and dictation software that allow you to speak words into your computer rather than type. Let me encourage you to leave a grand legacy, one that will live forever and be more valuable to future generations than simply leaving money.
During my years of helping people plan for retirement, I have seen many families torn apart by an inheritance. I have seen brothers fall out of good favor with one another, and sisters who will no longer speak to each other because of money. One of the greatest joys in my life has been learning how to become successful financially without receiving help from family or having to wonder what I will get from them.
I do not plan to leave a lot of money to my children or grandchildren because I would hate to rob them of the awesome experience of learning how to win at the game of life. And I certainly would be deeply troubled if my children fell out of favor with one another because of a large inheritance.
I suggest that you spend your money while you are alive. Create memories. Take your family on vacations and cruises. Take them out to eat. Spend the holidays with them. Create the relationships and share your wisdom. More importantly, give them the most valuable gift of all: your time.
Plan to leave your loved ones some money, but not so much that it cripples their abilities to grow on their own. And if you want to leave something really special behind to those who will follow in your footsteps, then consider writing down a collection of your favorite quotes, a journal, blog or even a book. It could be a wonderful gift and an amazing legacy.