Estate Planning Guide

5 Keys to Leaving a Lasting Legacy

5 Keys to Leaving a Lasting Legacy

As you get older, leaving a legacy may become increasingly important. It’s comforting to know that after you’re gone, a part of you will remain.

Stephanie Faris

Published March 23rd, 2021

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • When someone dies, usually that person is remembered by at least a small number of people. This is that person’s legacy.
  • There are various ways to leave a lasting legacy, including writing a unique epitaph and having a giving spirit.
  • It’s also important to consider your financial legacy, which refers to the assets you’ll leave behind for your loved ones.

As you get older, leaving a legacy may become increasingly important. It’s comforting to know that after you’re gone, a part of you will remain. Your family and friends will never forget you, but “legacy” goes beyond memories.

What if you want to make a lasting impression that’s more widespread? There’s more than one way to leave a legacy. This guide will help you understand what leaving behind a legacy means, as well as what you can do to make sure you’re remembered.

What is a Legacy?

What does it mean to leave a legacy? Think of the people you’ve heard about but never met. Your great-great-grandparents, for instance, or a famous person who died centuries before you were born.

Leaving behind a legacy means making an impact that will last long after you die. It could be financial, with something you create, or through the people you touch while you’re alive. The good news is, it’s never too late to start working on building a legacy that will outlive you.

How to Leave a Legacy

Okay, so you may be saying, “I don’t want to leave a legacy.” There’s nothing wrong with that. But before you dismiss it altogether, look at the various ways you can leave a legacy. You may find that your focus is limited to your own children and grandchildren, or you may prefer to have a touching funeral that gives everyone a chance to say goodbye. Here are some ways to leave a lasting legacy, both large- and small-scale.

Write your own professional epitaph

If you plan to have a marker in a cemetery, leaving behind a legacy just takes a few words. An epitaph is a short saying engraved on the tombstone for visitors to see for the rest of time. Alexander the Great’s epitaph was “A tomb now suffices him for whom the world was not enough,” while Rodney Dangerfield’s was “There goes the neighborhood.”

Evaluate your life

When it comes down to it, leave a legacy meaning is simply knowing that you’ve left your mark on the world. The best thing to do is stop where you are now and evaluate. If you died today, what would people say about you? Are you happy with being known for that?

If you don’t like what you find, you can start asking how to leave a legacy that would make you happy. Write down what you’d like for people to say about you and start living a life that will make that happen.

Pass along your values

For many, the leaving a legacy definition applies specifically to the next generation. If you have kids, take a look at the example you’re setting for them. Have you imparted the values you hold dear to them, both through example and by teaching them?

Even if you don’t have kids, though, you can still pass your values to younger generations. You don’t have to walk around asking strangers, “Can I be your legacy?” Instead, consider volunteering to help with a youth group or coach youth sports. There’s no limit to the opportunities to make an impact on future generations.

Practice generosity

When you’re looking at leaving a legacy examples, you’ll probably see a common theme. Generous people tend to touch more lives and, as a result, leave a stronger legacy. You’ve probably noticed that if you’ve attended funerals. Words like “giving spirit,” “always cared about others,” and “big heart” are pretty standard in eulogies.

Generosity is fairly simple. You put others first. You do things to help those in need. It can be as simple as helping out a friend who has fallen on hard times or as large-scale as pitching in to help after a local disaster. If it’s about family legacy meaning, bring household members in on your generous acts.

Create a plan to transition your wealth

There’s also the sensitive subject of your financial legacy. What assets will you leave behind for your survivors? If you aren’t swimming in money, that’s okay. But as you spend in retirement, think a little about how much money you want to leave when you die.

Often financial legacy meaning is tied to having a formal estate plan including a written will. Sitting down to designate who will take your home and what will happen to the money in your retirement and bank accounts can help you take stock in just how much money you’ll be leaving behind. For that reason, the sooner you can start working on your will, the more time you’ll have to make sure your loved ones are well taken care of.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve heard people refer to legacy, what is a legacy is a natural question. But your loved ones will likely ensure that you’re remembered long after you’re gone. If you’re concerned about your financial legacy, we recommend working with a Certified Financial Planner® to look at your assets and come up with a plan to leave the legacy you envision for your family.

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris has written about finance for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2013. She spent nearly a year as a writer for a credit card processing service and has written about finance for numerous marketing firms and entrepreneurs. Her work has appeared on Money Under 30, The Motley Fool, MoneyGeek, E-commerce Insiders, and GoBankingRates.

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