Hopefully you have experienced a wonderful holiday season with loved ones and friends, and exchanged gifts and merriment.
You have given the gifts you thought appropriate or needed to your loved ones. These gifts hopefully will make their lives easier, more efficient or add some excitement to their lives. However, have you thought about the gift that will keep your legacy alive through the generations of your family? This is the gift of communicating your stories and other family stories.
Communicating these stories should be part of your estate plan. Yes, we all think of wills, setting up trusts, naming an executor and beneficiaries and setting up funeral arrangements as the essence of an estate plan. The goal of an estate plan is to preserve your assets, which also includes your intangible assets such as your stories, life learned values and unforgettable memories.
According to the book “Aged Healthy, Wealthy & Wise,” a study conducted around legacy issues interviewed 2,627 baby boomers and elders. Baby boomers viewed the non-financial aspects such as values, life-lessons, and family stories as 10 times more important than the real estate, money and other tangible assets. Although 68% of the elder generation agreed they should be having these conversations, only 31% felt they had had these discussions.
Knowing more about our family history gives us a stronger sense of who we are and how our values were formed. According to an NPR survey, relating personal stories reminds people of their shared humanity, helps them see the value in everyone’s life story and experiences, humanizes social issues, events and policies and makes people feel more positive about society.
Considering all the benefits of sharing stories, you would think that would be a priority as we age. As a personal note, my mother helped train glider pilots during World War II. I only happened on to this when I found a picture of her at Sheppard Field in Wichita Falls, Texas. When I asked her, all she said was she helped train glider pilots. Like many other World War II service members she kept that story to herself. I would have loved to have known more, as gliders and their pilots played pivotal roles in World War II. Also, a man in Victoria called me after reading my mother’s obituary who thought he had her as his glider instructor. There is a museum in Lubbock, Texas called the Silent Wing Museum dedicated to the glider program in World War II.
Make it a priority when doing your estate planning to record or make sure everyone at your family gathering is making note of your stories. What might be insignificant to you today will be tomorrow’s family legacy. There are many ways to record your stories, from filming a video, to recording your voice, to writing the stories down.
As I age, one of my bucket list activities is to write a book with the stories I remember about my parents and some tales, hopefully not too tall, about my life! Hopefully, it will be a best seller – with my children.
Published in Victoria Advocate
Phyllis Keller, MBA is the Chief Information Officer for KMH Wealth Management, LLC and Keller & Associates CPAs PLLC.