As we guide our clients through the various aspects of estate planning, we are in a position to help people define their legacy and transfer assets to future generations. These are often difficult times of change and transition, and we remind our clients that estate planning is about more than distributing wealth – it is also an opportunity to pass on your wisdom and values.
Each generational transition is as unique as the family involved, but through our work with families we have seen some universal themes surface. One is that we find heirs often wish they knew more ahead of time about the process, or how to handle the range of resulting emotions—guilt, doubt, gratefulness—and to be more prepared to comfortably step into the responsibility of managing new wealth.
Another theme is that receiving an inheritance can be both a blessing and a burden. We find that at some point in the process, heirs struggle with how to best follow their loved ones’ wishes as they begin the stewardship of family wealth. They may search for clues about what their loved one might have wanted them to do with this newfound responsibility, and they can experience difficulty in decision making.
One way we encourage our clients to help alleviate this weight for their heirs is to write a legacy letter to include with estate plans and documents. Legacy letters are informal documents that offer thoughts ranging from reminders of personal or money values, words of encouragement, and transfer knowledge and wisdom. In this way, these letter help leave a family legacy that transcends money or property, and can be just as, or even more valuable.
Although they may lack the legal force of a will or trust document, legacy letters provide an understanding of your hopes and wishes for your heirs as they receive the benefit of your financial legacy. The letter can be as short as a few paragraphs, or any length that is needed to cover important issues. They can be hand-written, or electronic, or even in video. In all cases, legacy letters can be living documents that are amended over time.
Among other things, writing a letter to heirs can help
To many of our clients, the idea of creating a legacy letter is intuitively appealing because it can go further than a legal document in providing clarity and comfort.
In our work to support the financial and legal aspects of estate planning for our clients—including facilitating family meetings and connecting helpful resources—our advisory team can help answer the “who, what, and how.” But in our experience, communicating the “why” behind these decisions is what really provides peace of mind, and that makes it a vital step in caring for your heirs.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss legacy planning or legacy letters, please call your Litman Gregory Wealth Advisor or contact us here.
Investment Key Takeaways—Year-End 2020
Very few (if any) market observers would have predicted a strong market outcome in early 2020, with pandemic fears rampant and the global economy falling off a cliff. But global stocks ended the year at all-time highs with a 16% gain. At Litman Gregory, we “stayed the course” during the volatility, and it proved prescient once again. In this post, we summarize key takeaways from our full year-end investment commentary, offering an overview of financial market performance and our outlook for the months ahead.
Commentary from Our CIO—Year-End 2020
In this year-end commentary, CIO Jeremy DeGroot reflects on the recent challenging and turbulent year and lays out our investment outlook for 2021 and beyond. The strong full-year market returns masked the incredible volatility and stress investors faced earlier in the year. While many risks remain, the early stages of vaccine distributions and economic stimulus are providing a light at the end of the tunnel.
Alice Lowenstein Earns CSRIC™, Sustainable, Responsible & Impact Investing Designation
We are pleased to share that Managing Director Alice Lowenstein has obtained the Chartered SRI Counselor designation, the first major financial credential dedicated specifically to sustainable, responsible and impact investing. This designation demonstrates Alice’s knowledge of SRI principles and best practices.