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Creating a Legacy

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For many, legacy goes well beyond financial giving.

 

For almost 18 years, Lou Lroy, a resident at Crescent Park Senior Living in Eugene, Oregon, has volunteered at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend, in nearby Springfield. Every Friday, Lroy, age 91, directs visitors and answers questions. 

“It's very satisfying to be able to help people,” she says. “It also gives me an outlet and gets me out of the house.” 

Lroy is helping her community and staying active, while leaving a legacy of community service. 

People volunteer, start businesses, write books, raise families and develop loving relationships in hopes of making a positive difference in the world. From our actions and values, we leave a legacy. 

Share Your Family History

Your knowledge, wisdom and history are priceless to friends and family. Create photo albums that chronicles your family’ history. Ask a child or grandchild to record your family legacy using a smartphone. Talk about your grandparents, childhood, teenage years or whatever else comes to mind. 

“This is a great way to trace your family history beyond what you can find online,” says Stephanie Bruno, a financial planner and wealth advisor based in Denver, Colorado. “And your family will learn so much about you.” Another way to share your history is through keepsakes. 

In her 90s, Mary, an avid baker, gave her box of recipes to one of her four granddaughters. When Mary passed away, at 100, that granddaughter had a wonderful keepsake as well as the secret to Mary’s incredible oatmeal raisin cookies. 

Give to Charity

Contribute money or other assets to causes you support and that reflect your values. Families of wealth often build family foundations or trusts around a core value or problem they want to solve. 

Donor-advised funds allow you or your family to make a contribution to a public charity and then recommend grants from the fund over time. Local community foundations and some financial institutions offer donor-advised funds. When you get your children and grandchildren involved in the grant process, you instill the importance of giving back to younger generations. 

Volunteer

To help your heirs understand on a tangible level your passion for certain causes, volunteer together. “Get your kids or grandkids involved in an activity around that charity,” says Bruno. “Do something together even once a year.” Serve Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless. Make phone calls for a local nonprofit. Take tickets at a neighborhood festival. Volunteering is a great way to learn more about prospective charities, as well. 

Leave Details in Your Will

If you decide to leave heirlooms to family members, explain what the items mean to you in your will. “I ask my clients to write down why someone is receiving an item and what was important about that item,” says Bruno. “Put a story behind it. Then it's clear why they're getting it. It carries on the legacy and eliminates any conflict.” 

Find creative ways to pass on your legacy to loved ones and your community.