A Valentine for Your Family: Planning Your Legacy

planning legacy family willDo you have a will?

More than half of Americans don’t have a will. Have you ever heard it referred to as “a love letter to your family”? Does thinking of it that way encourage you to stop avoiding this awkward topic?

A will is part of planning for your legacy, certainly, but there’s much more to your legacy than that. I’m calling the whole package “A Valentine for Your Family” because I’m writing this in February, but it’s also a gift to yourself when you consider the peace of mind that comes with addressing these issues.

A will is your last chance to communicate with your loved ones. Don’t miss the opportunity to show them how much you care! Think about how you would feel. Would you rather be left clear instructions? Or no instructions at all? Do you want to burden your family by forcing them to make a ton of decisions on top of grieving your loss?

MY valentine to YOU is this Legacy Resource Roundup:

Each category contains blog articles, checklists, and other types of resources to help you navigate this sometimes-difficult topic.

  • Start a Conversation with Your Family
    • Talking about death won’t kill you, LOL!
  • Declutter & Organize Your Stuff
    •  Will your kids view your things as keepsakes or clutter?
  • Preserve Your Family History
    • Organize your research so it makes sense and doesn’t get tossed.
  • Organize Your Photos
    • Gather, sort, organize, archive, backup, maintain, display, and share your favorite photos!
  • Organize Your Estate Paperwork
    • Collect important documents and make sure someone knows where they are.
  • Create a Will (or Two)
    • Make a traditional will and/or trust… and a virtual will for your digital estate.
  • Plan to Age & Die with Dignity
    • Consider downsizing, end of life care…and funerals.

Since not everyone leaves a tidy estate, here’s another section that will probably come in handy for you:

  • What to Do When Someone Else Dies
    • Including a checklist.

Click here to review the resources. Focus on one category at a time. Don’t worry that you can’t do it all at once. Like any gift, it’s up to you how much or how little you want to give. Just pick something that’s been on your mind and do it. When you are finished with that, pick the next highest priority area to work on. Ask for help if you need it. If you run out of time, well, at least you died trying!

Have you had a conversation with your family about end of life matters?

Do you think your family will appreciate your efforts?

Please share in the comments below!

Copyright 2017 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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  1. Such great resources Hazel! We made a will about 10 years ago and it is such a peace of mind knowing that all those details are taken care of if something were to happen. I also try to encourage clients to think about what they are keeping and if they want their family members dealing with it once they’re gone. It helps keep it in perspective. Great post 🙂

    • Yes, some people joke about not caring what they leave behind (I think most of them are masking guilt with humor), but if I’m already working with a client who does cares how much stuff they have, it can indeed help to ask them who will be dealing with their stuff if/when something happens to them.

  2. We went through this process last year. It was a lot of work, thinking through all of the details of inheritance and trusts and executors and all of that. I’m very glad we did it, as the last time we had worked on wills was when my girls were little and we were worried about custody. We are also starting to think about downsizing the “stuff” we own. Some of it our children may still use, but not all of it. I keep trying to get my husband interested in culling through boxes of paper in the attic – so far no luck!

    • Like any good plan, a will needs to be reviewed periodically. But it’s easier to tweak later than to create in the first place, right? You are a good example that you don’t have to be old and dying to think about these things. Anyone can get hit by a bus at any time!

  3. We’re in the middle of updating our will/guardianship papers and making sure our ‘ducks are in a row’ for the future. Unfortunately, events happen unexpectedly and it’s crucial to be prepared if that day ever comes. Since 9/11, I have more of an awareness of the fact–that anything can happen. I will feel a lot better once our paperwork is completed and signed!

    • Yes, anyone can be hit by a bus at any time! The trick is to balance the urgency of needing to create a will (and take additional measures to organize a good legacy) with a sense of calmness required to think it through and do it right!

  4. Great post and resources, Hazel! Ditto with Stacey and Seana. We’re also in the process of updating our wills etc… It was pretty traumatic the first time around, doing it when the girls were young. But this time it just feels like part of what it means to be an adult. And as you said, a very loving thing to do for your family.

    • Hi Linda! You’ve reminded me…like any good plan, it needs to be reviewed from time to time to see what’s changed and what needs to changed. I’ve got a will, but haven’t looked at it in quite awhile.

  5. My husband and I created our wills last year. It wasn’t a glamorous afternoon date, but it felt good to do. Thanks for bringing up the tough issues and reminding us they’re not so scary, Hazel!

    • Hi Sarah! I find that MOST unpleasant tasks turn out to be not as bad (or scary) as anticipated once I’ve planned my approach and taken the first step!

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