For many people, having an estate plan isn’t just about leaving money and other assets to their family. It’s about having a say in their own legacy – what they will be remembered for after they’re gone.
Certainly, that can include leaving donations to non-profit organizations that are doing work you support or to your college or grad school alma mater. Some people set up a foundation in their name to help fund charitable work or scholarships. Even designating where you would like donations made in your name by friends and colleagues who want to do something to remember you after you’re gone is a type of legacy project.
Ideas for legacy projects
However, a legacy project doesn’t have to involve money. It can be anything you leave behind to people remember you and the things you cared most about. Some people don’t get around to these until they’re in their final days, but you can start at any time.
Messages to loved ones are often surprising and welcome after someone is gone. You can write letters to share advice or stories that might be helpful or inspirational for them. If you feel more comfortable speaking, you can leave behind individualized video or audio messages. You can also write or record something that’s meant for everyone.
If you’ve always been known for your cooking, baking, woodworking, painting or another talent, you can leave something behind that represents memories from your life. Some people leave their recipes to a family member who shares their talents in the kitchen, for example. You could make a display with pictures of your own parents and grandparents as well as memorabilia like military dog tags, citizenship certificates and more.
There is a multitude of potential legacy projects that can help your family and others remember you and help ensure that family history isn’t lost when you’re gone. Some require planning and funding through your estate plan, while others are things you can personally give to others. Even if you don’t plan on going anywhere any time soon, it’s never too early to start thinking about your legacy.