Leaving a legacy isn’t always about making a big bequest.
A Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Ave Wave survey came up with some interest information, according to The Voice in “How to leave a legacy no matter how much money you have.” The survey included more than 3,000 adults (2,600 of them were 50 and older) who were asked about end-of-life planning and leaving a legacy.
A total of 94% of those surveyed said that a life well-lived, is about “having friends and family that love me.” 75% of the respondents said that a life well-lived is about having a positive impact on society. A mere 10% said that a life well-lived is about accumulating a lot of wealth.
People want to be remembered for how they lived, not what they did at work or how much money they saved. Nearly 70% said they most wanted to be remembered for the memories they shared with loved ones. And only nine percent said career success was something they wanted to be remembered for.
While everyone needs to have their affairs in order, especially people over age 55, only 55% of those surveyed reported having a will. Only 18% have what are considered the three key essentials for legacy planning: a will, a health care directive, and a durable power of attorney.
The will addresses how property is to be distributed, names an executor of the estate and, if there are minor children, names who should be their guardian. The health care directive gives specific directions as to end-of-life preferences and designates someone to make health care decisions for you, if you can’t. A power of attorney designates someone to make financial decisions on your behalf when you can’t do so, because of illness or incapacity.
An estate plan is often only considered when a trigger event occurs, like a loved one dying without an estate plan. That is a wake-up call for the family, once they see how difficult it is when there is no estate plan.
Parents age 55 and older had interesting views on leaving inheritances and who should receive their estate. Only about a third of boomers surveyed and 44% of Gen Xers said that it’s a parent’s duty to leave some kind of inheritance to their children. A higher percentage of millennials surveyed—55%–said that this was a duty of parents to their children.
The biggest surprise of the survey: 65% of people 55 and older reported that they would prefer to give away some of their money, while they are still alive. A mere 8% wanted to give away all their assets, before they died. Only 27% wanted to give away all their money after they died.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances.
Reference: The Voice (June 16, 2019) “How to leave a legacy no matter how much money you have”