Have you ever stopped to wonder which gift your children or grandchildren would appreciate most from you long after you are gone? The answer may simply be your story. Nothing could be more priceless for a child than reading and reflecting on the words of a loved one, drawn up to convey a three-dimensional perspective in a two-dimensional note. Not everyone can pass on a financial inheritance, but everyone can pass on some of the wealth of life by creating an inheritance statement.

A Legacy Statement is a lovely ancient custom, sadly not sufficiently known in our times. Typically, parents wrote a letter to their children, in which they tried to summarize everything they had learned in life and, in which they tried to express what they wanted most for and from their children. They would leave these letters behind because they believed that the wisdom they had acquired was part of the legacy they wanted to leave their children as much as all material possessions were.

The earliest statements on inheritance are found in the Bible. Jacob gathers his children around his bedside and tries to tell them how they should live after he is gone. And Moses makes a farewell discourse, chastising, prophesying and instructing the people about him before he dies. David prepares Solomon before he goes to his eternal rest by warning the one to be wary of when he becomes king and asking him to complete the task that he had started and could not complete.

A Statement of Legacy, also called Ethical Will, is not unlike the stories recorded for Superman by his loving parents – offering guidance and wisdom about life situations long after they were available to offer such advice personally. You are much richer than the sum of your material possessions, but your legal and financial address will only address the question, “What do I want my loved ones to have?” Your inheritance statement goes, “What do I want them to know?” A declaration of inheritance is not a legal document; rather, it compliments your legal documents. Maybe you find yourself in a situation where you need to draw up your legal documents and an inheritance statement to protect the people you love.

You work very diligently to achieve success, big and small, you should pay equal attention to leaving all the things you value to those you love.

* The value of your story in your words.
* The value of your insights.
* The thoughts and methods used in the development of planning and distributions.
* The value of your love and feelings for your loved ones.

A personal inheritance statement can capture all of these treasures and pass them on to future generations.

Legacy statements can be one of the most cherished and meaningful gifts you can leave your family and community. But an inheritance statement is not an easy thing to write. In doing so, we are confronted. You have to look within to see what essential truths you have learned in a lifetime, face your failures, and consider what are the things that really matter. Thus an individual learns a lot about himself when he writes an Inheritance Statement. If you had time to write just one letter, who would it be addressed to? What would he say? What would you leave out? Would you like to chastise and reproach? Would you like to thank, forgive, or try to teach?

Conversely, a Legacy Statement is not an easy thing to read. There is a feeling of being a voyeur, of eavesdropping on an intimate conversation, of reading a love letter from beyond. Those who read these documents should do so with reverence and gratitude. The words of those we have loved can be powerful reminders and create unexpected emotional reactions. A wise reader will consume the information as an adult engages in a mature conversation with another adult. The sum total of one’s earthly existence can prove to be quite priceless for many future generations.

What should an inheritance statement contain?

Content varies from person to person, but here are some starting points:

* Your beliefs and opinions
* Important events in your life
* Things you have done to act on your values
* Something you have learned from your grandparents, parents, siblings, spouse and / or children
* Something you have learned from personal experience
* Something you are grateful for
* Your hopes for the future

If you are willing to make the effort and invest your time in a priceless gift, your energy and commitment should be appreciated for generations to come. I personally invite you to embark on a challenging adventure and wish you happy writing!

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