We tend to think of a legacy as a material possession or an accumulation of wealth that we can pass down to our children or other beneficiaries when we die.
Legacy has a much broader meaning and one that might cause us to pause and think more about how we live our lives rather than worry about what happens afterwards.
In this sense, we’re thinking about the things we do while we are alive and the “footprint” we leave behind.
It’s easy to think this is only achievable by those who are famous or people who have contributed to society on a large scale or in a significant way. Certainly, imagine for a moment how different the world would be without the diverse legacies of Shakespeare, Florence Nightingale, Martin Luther King or more recently Steve Jobs. They made positive contributions while they were alive and whose effects have rippled through history and will continue to do so for a very long time.
Not all legacies are positive, however. The effects of Hitler and Osama Bin Laden’s lives and actions have undoubtedly been profound and negative.
That said, a legacy doesn’t have to be on such a grand scale. We are all in a position to leave a legacy of some kind. It’s not something we generally think about, but it is entwined in the choices and actions we take in day-to-day life.
For many this will simply be living a fulfilled life, loving and teaching our children to be contributing adults so that they can grow up to live rich and satisfying lives of their own. It may be through volunteering or working with those less privileged than ourselves and inspiring others to do the same. Perhaps it could be through fundraising: moving people and organisations to give their time and money to create facilities such as hospitals or schools in faraway places or to fund research to cure diseases.
Some people create a legacy by campaigning to help others when they are faced with adversity and devastating circumstances. Trevor Lakin fought for overseas victims of terrorist attacks to receive compensation from the Government. In 2012, seven years after his son was killed in an Egyptian terror attack, the law was finally changed.
Sometimes there’s an overlap between the two different types of legacy. People who have found success in a particular field might set up bursaries or scholarships to provide an opportunity to someone who might not otherwise be in a position to follow in their footsteps.
However we live our lives, on a large or small scale, our legacy will be judged on the things we said and did and by the people who our lives touched. Why not think about what yours will be today?
Planning and ensuring your legacy isn’t leaving a burden on your loved ones is important for us all.
Make sure you have everything in place by contacting E.L.M Legal Services for more information on how we can help.