A recent article in the Wall Street Journal is a good reminder that what we leave when we die can be so much more than money, real property, and jewelry. The writer believes (as do I) that the wisdom and life lessons we leave are as much as part of our estate as the tangibles. He also describes way to facilitate this passing on of values, and includes "Ten questions to ask important people in your life" (taken from 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans).From "Before Passing Along Valuables, Passing Along Values: Why legacies and life lessons are an increasingly important part of estate planning":
Holiday and family gatherings provide an opportunity to capture some of the wisdom elders have to offer. Adult children and grandchildren can start by asking older relatives to share memories and anecdotes—but shouldn't stop there, Mr. [Karl] Pillemer says. If a grandparent served in World War II, for example, don't just listen to those stories or details of time in the service—ask what he or she learned from that experience.
"Ask them for their life stories, but try to tap their life's wisdom," Mr. Pillemer says. "If you ask a person for advice, it empowers them. It honors a person's life experience."
[This next paragraph is also an excerpt from the article but, for some glitchy reason, good ol' Typepad will not let me indent it!]
Older adults should also consider drafting an ethical will, a document that transmits your core values and principles, says Mr. Pillemer. "It can be very powerful for themselves and their families," he adds.
Click to read a past post about ethical wills; includes several related links.