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  • Writer's pictureAlan D. Feller, Esq.

Spring Cleaning for Your Legacy: Revitalize Your Estate Plan for 2024

According to one of the two publicly recognizable Groundhogs, Spring will arrive early this year.  My grades in freshman Atmospheric Science certainly do not entitle me to challenge the supremacy of Punxsutawney Phil.    Expect to feel warmer sooner.  With the chirping birds and emerging buds, thoughts of Spring cleaning fill our souls.  Ok, maybe not all of our souls, but throwing some things out is not a bad idea.   In other words, it’s time for our legacies to hit the refresh button.

 

I used to think that a legacy in estate planning terms was simply a dollar and cents entry.  It is much more.  What loved ones leave behind or fail to leave behind includes so many facets.  There are financial resources, hopefully set-up with beneficiaries or placed in Trusts that will stay out of the Courts and go quickly and efficiently to the right people.  There are personal effects and heirlooms which will be lifetime reminders of what you collected.  One of the most important and least discussed legacies is your voice.

 

After all of your beneficiary forms, Powers of Attorney, Trusts, Pour Over Wills and Health Care Proxies are updated, what is left?  How about you.  Papers end up in a file cabinet.  A father’s voice and smile, a mother’ s laugh should be captured and remain close.  Digital estate planning is a catch-all term for preserving our digital lives – including social media profiles and remnants of your online existence.  Preservation is fine, but true digital estate planning should organize images, sounds, ideas and messages for your loved ones that distill the essence of you for the rest of their lives. 

 

The reason this is so important is that we leave a lot of stuff, but very little of who we were.  To hear my grandpa talk about his life or laugh at his own jokes one more time is way more valuable than a bookcase.  All that remains of Grandpa Harry are a few dozen photographs, and a couple of video tapes with him cutting the Challah.  Today, we have the technology to record messages and conversations that our loved ones can replay on a whim.  We can be the DJ of our favorite music and the Roger Ebert of our favorite movies.

 

Maybe, most of us are better remembered in a hazy, sweet nostalgia than the unedited, multi-dimensional ramblings of our real selves.  I do not agree.  A complete estate plan provides the practical, the essential and the personal.  Think about your favorite topics, have a loved one record you and save it to the Cloud.  Share the file with the people who matter and it will be there when they want to hear your voice on some early Spring day far in the future.     


elders walking in sun
I used to think that a legacy in estate planning terms was simply a dollar and cents entry.  It is much more.  What loved ones leave behind or fail to leave behind includes so many facets. 

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