What’s the Difference Between “Legacy Planning” and Estate Planning”?

Unfortunately, legal terms and financial terms can be confusing. The term “legacy” has a specific technical definition—a gift or bequest made under a last will and testament. This creates the belief by some that “legacy planning” is the same as estate planning and just refers to what happens to your assets after you die. However, in its recent article, “Three Common Misconceptions About Legacy Planning,” Forbes writes that a proactive approach would be viewing “legacy planning” as the means by which you define and achieve the legacy you ultimately want to leave behind. Let’s look at some misstatements about legacy planning:

Dad-1716160_640I’m not vain enough to have such plans. For some, the idea of creating and leaving a legacy is uncomfortable. They think they haven’t or won’t accomplish anything significant enough to be preserved. They also think that preserving their legacy means preserving their individual name and story. That can feel like they’re putting themselves on a pedestal and saying, “look at how great I am.” It sounds kind of egotistical. However, legacy planning starts with a simple notion that everyone is entitled to a happy, fulfilled life that is achieved through striving to become your best self and accomplishing your greatest success. It is about health, wellness and balance. As far as what happens when you die, your legacy plan is less about preserving who you are as an individual and more about preserving your life’s work.

Ruling from the grave? Really? This suggests that you’re controlling your heirs and future generations as far as the family legacy. Control isn’t really the main point of legacy planning. It’s about the freedom to find and become your best self and to achieve your greatest success. When it comes to protecting the wealth and assets through which your legacy lives after your death, your plan should empower those in charge to be intentional and purposeful in carrying your purpose forward.

You have to be really wealthy to leave behind a legacy. Wrong. Everyone will have a legacy to leave behind when they die. The question is, what will that legacy be? Legacies aren’t left behind, they’re built. Legacy planning is about taking control and proactively creating the legacy you’ll ultimately leave behind.

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Jeffrey Bellomo, Esq.



Reference: Forbes (November 15, 2017) “Three Common Misconceptions About Legacy Planning”

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