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Making Your Legacy Known

After creating your legacy through a Will and Testament orTrust, you might consider making your legacy gifts known. Your Will is a testament to what you accomplished and what you believe. Your Will exhibits through your planned gifts to them, the love you have for the people and charities who are designated as beneficiaries of your estate by your having planned a gift for them upon your death. However, it can also be an opportunity to build bridges and to share your love beyond the material gift, by sharing your faith, some of your spiritual journey, and perhaps lessons learned.

The first opportunity to share is called a Christian Legacy Will. The Christian Legacy Will can either be included in the legal document itself, or be enclosed in an envelope as a separate estate planning document of your life that a friend or family member will share with others you have designated upon your passing. Your Christian Legacy Will does not share how you designated assets, but will plant seeds of faith for those you leave behind because you have shared in writing, your love for God and neighbor.

As Christians, we are called to evangelize, and the Christian Legacy Will will be your last opportunity to share your gift of faith with others.

The second opportunity to make your legacy known is the Family Legacy Meeting. The Family Legacy Meeting has an agenda to promote harmony and remedy any family differences that are present at the time you create your Will and Testament. The meeting provides a forum for a family to share verbally with their family in a way that promotes healing, forgiveness, and improved relations with a family. You can express a variety of positive feelings towards family members who are present at the meeting:

  1. Love and appreciation for that person and a chance to ask for forgiveness for any real or perceived hurts between you. Remember that you can ask for forgiveness even if you have done nothing wrong because you are still sorry that it happened.
  2. In addition to expressing positive feelings toward family members:
  3. You can express fond remembrances of prior experiences with family or remorse for the times you may not have been fully present to them.
  4. As with the Christian Legacy Will, you can share your faith and some of your spiritual journey and your desire that they remain steadfast in their faith.
  5. Share life lessons learned from your parents, or favorite authors or books, movies, music, and scripture.
  6. Share the grace you know you received from the Sacraments but ask for forgiveness for the times your communication or connection with family members may not have exhibited that grace.

It can be hard to open up this way and perhaps to own up to your own misdeeds, failures, or neglect, but God is merciful and will be with you through it all. When you ask for mercy from others, it will help enable them to do the same for others.

The last part of the Christian Legacy Will is to share how you have distributed your assets. A Will is not a private document, whereas a Trust is. If you have a Will, and feel there could be disharmony among family members by how you have divided your assets, it is best to share your reasons, now, for your decisions. By doing this, you can mediate any disharmony that could remain after you pass because you were not there to share your reasons for how you planned your gifts to family and charity.

The Family Legacy Meeting will be a humbling experience for all and can provide tremendous healing and other benefits. If you follow-up the meeting with prayer and thanksgiving the benefits can be life-long.

Terri M. Lynn, M.T.S., August 19, 2019

Ideas presented in this article originated with the book, "Finish Faithful" by Mark Henry, J.D., Copyright 2003

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