We talk a lot about the concept of legacy – what you leave behind.
And it is more than houses, and cars and bank accounts, although those things matter greatly to those who inherit them.
Legacy is about the footprints you leave on this planet – the mark you have made.
Sometimes it is powerful and potent, sometimes soft and gentle.
Most often we write about great legacies – fortunes made, charitable donations and foundations established, artworks created- things that may echo for years to come.
But sometimes a legacy is not so glowing.
Case in point: the spicy obituary in the small print and online publication (that has just been pulled down) of the Redwood Falls Gazette which has galvanised the internet today, of Kathleen Dehmlow who died one week ago.
Sometimes human beings do good things, sometimes they don’t, and human history is littered with countless examples of bad behaviour and life changing mistakes.
But it’s not the mistakes we should be remembered for, but the positive things we have done.
This begs the question – if your life only consisted of leaving disenfranchised family members and broken promises, can you still leave a positive legacy?
The answer is yes – it’s never too late. And this is why I often spend much time and thought with some clients in building something truly positive in their estate planning. Sometimes its large donations to charity or the creation of a worthy foundation for public good, sometimes it’s as simple as balancing out assets amongst family members. But more often than not, it is about building bridges amongst family who have been fighting a cold war sometimes for decades, not settling old scores and having the last word.