You're the only person alive with all of this information. If you don't share it, who will?
This is the story of your life. Think of all the personal lessons, tips, and knowledge you'd like to pass on, whether it's information about your family history, favorite recipes, or the history behind photos or possessions.
It can be difficult to even know where to start, so we separated this stuff into manageable pieces to help you get started.
About My Life: General Thoughts
Write out thoughts you have about your family and friends. You can share lessons, tips, and important stories you'd like to be kept alive after you're gone. However you choose to capture these thoughts (Word document, handwritten journal), make sure someone knows where you keep them so they're shared after you're gone. You should also share photos of yourself that you like, which can be used to for memorialization purposes.
Possessions & Keepsakes
Offer the history and thoughts about special things you own that may have a story behind them. It's also a good place to explain decisions you made in your Will, as well as things you left out of your Will but still want to end up in the right hands.
Genealogy & Family History
Keep your family tree alive and healthy for future generations by sharing details and stories about deceased family members. Here's a starting point:
Relation To Person: Maternal Grandmother | Maternal Grandfather | Paternal Grandmother | Paternal Grandfather | Mother | Father |Other (Great Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, etc…)
For each person include the following info:
- Favorite Memories
- Lasting Impressions
- Other Thoughts You May Have
Even though we live in a world of digital photos, every family still has these rare items. Make sure they aren't lost or forgotten.
For each photo include the location and who's in the photos. You can also include a Post-it on the back, or make digital scans of the photos and include pertinent info either in the title (Grandmom-Sally-Philadelphia-PA-1945.jpg)
Make sure generations can enjoy these delicious meals and treats for years to come. Here's the info you should include:
- Name of Recipe
- List of Ingredients
- Cooking Instructions
- Additional Instructions & Tips
Include all the charities and causes that have meant the most to you throughout your life.
- Name of Charity
- Website or Phone Number
- Notes & Instructions (example: In lieu of flowers, have everyone donate to this cause)
Would you like a tree planted in your name? An annual bike-a-thon? Your name on a brick in front of your favorite team's stadium? Let your family know what you'd like.
Write Legacy Letters To Your Family & Friends
Our Firm is known to inundate you with lots of planning information, helping people make a lot of hard decisions. This is the part where you get to kick back and be yourself without any laws, statutes, or other complicated aspects getting in the way.
This doesn't make it any easier. Sometimes, there's nothing more intimidating than a blank piece of paper. Where do you start? What do you write? Will this even get to the right person?
Fear not! Your legacy is safe as long as you follow these steps, organize your thoughts, and take your time.
Letter To Everyone
Is there anything you've always wanted to share with the world? Something to be posted on Facebook, or printed out put on a community or church bulletin board? Now's your chance to start thinking about what you'd like to say and get it done.
This isn't the same as writing your own obituary. This is an informal way to share your thoughts, experiences, special stories, or anything you have in your heart and soul that you want other people to know. This shouldn't be written to one specific person (we'll get to that later). It should be something you'd be willing to share with strangers who never met you before. Here are some tips:
It shouldn't be too long. This is a letter, not a manifesto. Though, if you want to write a manifesto, go right ahead. We just don't think those play too well on social media.
Stay focused. If you had to encapsulate your life in 500 words, what would you say? Do you want to inspire people to live their lives? Thank people for showing you kindness during difficult times? Make a few jokes so people remember you in a positive manner?
Be careful if you want to go dark. You may have felt slighted or treated poorly. While this is terrible, and many people can relate, think twice before asking someone to share something negative. This is how you will be remembered. If you lash out you're not the one who will feel the repercussions. You're gone so your family and friends will have to manage the backlash. Remember the old saying: “if you don't have something nice to say…”
It doesn't have to be a story. It could be a list of lessons you learned that stuck with you your entire life. It could be a song that always made you smile, a photo that provided inspiration, or a famous quote that gave you hope. Perhaps there's a saying or mantra that you'd always repeat to close friends and family. When you're expressing your genuine emotions, there are no rules.
Tell someone about it. While you might not want to share this with anyone while you're still alive, be sure to leave instructions to a specific person so you can be sure your wishes are followed. Whether it's a handwritten letter or a digital document, leave it somewhere it can be found with instructions on where you want it posted.
Letter To Specific people In Your Life
A lot of people call this type of thing an “Ethical Will,” which is a terribly cold name for something with so much heart. Here's where you get the chance to let your family, friends, and anyone else in this world know who you are and how you feel about them.
There are a lot of people in your life, and each person might require a different message to help ease the grief after you're gone. It doesn't have to be a novel, but it's something they will likely treasure for the rest of their lives.
The thought of this letter gives us happy chills and misty eyes because this is the culmination of all your hard work. Not just in getting a plan together, but in life and what you pass on to future generations. We're fully aware people share so much through social media, but there's something special about sharing personal thoughts directly to the people you love written directly from your heart.
Keep Your Plan Up-To-Date
Make sure all of the details are neatly organized, updated, and kept is a place that you and your loved ones can have easy access.
This article was brought to you by the Ronald J. Fichera Law Firm, where our mission is to provide trusted, professional legal services and strategic advice to assist our clients in their personal and business matters. Our firm is committed to delivering efficient and cost-effective legal services focusing on communication, responsiveness, and attention to detail.
For additional information please contact us for a free consultation.
As a reminder, this Blog Post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal or tax advice.