What Legacy Do You Want to Deliver to Your Loved Ones?

Author: Jerry Cahn

What Legacy Do You Want to Deliver to Your Loved Ones?


People often think of legacy as something you provide for others after you die (e.g., leave a legacy). However, that concept misses the point: we deliver parts of our legacy every day through actions toward people (i.e., relationships), passion projects (e.g., mastery of skills) and purposeful causes (e.g., charities), etc. Our legacy is how we influence others based on their understanding of our values, goals, experiences and dreams.

Yes, if you want to direct the distribution of assets when you’re not capable of handling such decisions, you can engage estate planning attorneys to draft wills, trusts, power of attorney, and other legal directives. Similarly, if you want to preserve wealth that you accumulate throughout life, and use the power of investing, compounding and tax planning, you can engage financial advisors with the relevant expertise to distribute your wealth. However, they’re only dealing with one part of what makes you special.

The most important part of your legacy comes from understanding the real you. What are your values and priorities? What experiences are meaningful for you? What relationships and achievements are important? 

Not just now but in your past. Not just you today, but also the future-self you want to be,

One way of communicating who you are, what you care about, and what impact you want to have on the world, is by sharing the answers to such questions so people who care about you now and in the future. Imagine how much people can learn if you shared your answers to such questions as:

  • What do you think is the meaning of life?
  • What is your idea of perfect happiness?
  • What was the strangest thing you wanted to be when you grew up?
  • At what times of your life were you happiest?
  • What is your best advice when it comes to raising children?
  • How do you think the world will be different in 100 years? 

Storyworth.com offers a way to share your story with others, and preserve it in a bound hardcover book that can be passed onto future generations. (See the Wall Street Journal’s How to Preserve Your Family History, No Awkward Interviews Required.) Their system provides structure which most self-written diaries lack.

It’s easy using Storyworth’s annual subscription service. One party (e.g., a child, grandchild, local institution that you support, etc.) poses questions like the ones listed above each week. The question is emailed to you and you have a week in which to answer it. You can edit the answers at any time during the year. After the 52 answers are collected, you finish editing the material including adding photos if you want and have a book published on your life. The core service costs only $99. 

Storyworth is an ideal tool for people who are committed to enabling and preserving others’ legacies. For instance:

Children can use it to:

  • Learn more about their parents’ life experiences and viewpoints
  • Obtain information from parents suffering from health challenges (e.g., dementia) which may limit future conversations to collect the information now to share with the adult and others in the future
  • Informal and formal mentees can use it to gain advice from mentors and older adults who want to share their experiences and expertise.

Storyworth also is a perfect gift for legacy-related advisors (e.g., lawyers, wealth managers, accountants) who might want to help their clients create conversations which communicate their value system to beneficiaries.

To facilitate Age Brilliantly members use of this tool, to forge more meaningful relationships and legacies, we’ve partnered with Storyworth. If you use this link,  you will receive a $10 discount.  If you’d like to share the experiences with other members you do so in our new Legacy Forum.