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When estate planning is about the legacy

“Our family didn’t think of anything but leaving everything to us,” says one fundraising professional.

That person offered that comment in the context of estate planning, impliedly noting a shift in thinking across the generations.

That shift is marked by a fundamental change in planning that is occurring for individuals and families across the country. A developmental director at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center states that estate planning is in many instances now marked by “a move from success to significance.”

Put another way: Increasingly more Americans are now thinking about more than family bequests and inheritances when it comes to the important task of distributing assets they have accumulated over a lifetime.

The reasons for that are several.

For starters, many families are smaller these days than in past generations. In many cases, there are no children at all. Also, higher numbers of people are opting to forgo marriage than was the case in bygone years. Further still, many people are in childless relationships that no longer fit within the easy definition of being “traditional.”

In short, there are myriad reasons why more people these days are thinking about a lasting legacy as they contemplate estate planning. One commentator calls that a paradigm shift fueled by the desire of many to create something “charitably significant with their estates.”

There are many creative and fulfilling ways to do that, which can optimally start with close input from a proven estate planning attorney during a candid and comprehensive discussion about a person’s goals and values.

Source: The New York Times, “In estate planning, family isn’t always first,” Caitlin Kelly, May 2, 2014 

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