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Wills and Inheritance: Leaving a Legacy

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Now that you're 70, you've begun thinking about the type of legacy that you'd like to leave your family. But you need more assistance to identify what you would want to pass on to your loved ones, both materially and historically. What can you say to enlist their help?

When it comes to material items, this may depend on how well your family gets along, how good they are at compromising, and how much you know up front that particular items are going to cause problems. If you aren't expecting huge conflict, it might be possible to avoid awkwardness by making this a party situation. Hold a silent auction where everyone gets together and "bids" on certain items. You'll get a good idea of who might be particularly attached to what, but it will be done in a fun atmosphere.

However, it's probably worth doing some informal inquiries up front; if one item seems particularly desirable to everyone, then the party might not get off the ground. If so, just have some individual conversations with people about their desires and reasons for those, and make the best decision you can. A good way to start such a conversation might be: "John, I'm not planning on dying soon, but I am working on my will. I'd really like to make sure that everyone gets something special and unique to remember me by. Is there anything from the house that you'd particularly like to inherit when I die?"

If you'd like to pull together history items for your loved ones, why not make this a family project as well. Or, tape memories and other family history on an audio cassette and leave it in a safety deposit box. A grandchild or other relative may someday value this hidden treasure, even if no one seems interested now.

Please download the full "70-40" Rule® Booklet (PDF 600K).

Last revised: December 7, 2010

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