Will Your Legacy Reflect Your Personal Values?

Jeffrey K. Yandle

Portfolio Manager
First Republic Investment Management

April 29, 2015

When advising clients on wealth management strategies, the question “How much money is enough?” inevitably will arise at some point. While there are sophisticated software programs that can calculate cash flows and probabilities and determine whether they will meet certain needs and lifestyles, in most instances the question is far more nuanced and personal than it is financial.

Wealthy individuals often have more than enough money to meet their needs comfortably during their lifetimes. So, essentially, the question being asked is, “What should I do with the rest of my money?” This idea of wealth distribution and your legacy can lead to a lot of soul-searching, opening up intensely personal discussions about where your wealth should go after your life is complete. Questions of personal philanthropy and what is appropriate to leave to future generations are at the forefront of the conversation, as are questions about one’s personal belief system and values.

Your values are important; they reflect the way you’ve raised your family, built your business and conducted yourself personally throughout your life. It is of paramount importance that your legacy reflects your values.

It can, therefore, be a very worthwhile exercise to write a personal values statement. 

Distilling Goals With a Personal Values Statement

A personal values statement can help you identify and clarify what is most important in your life and how each of those things relates to your wealth. Some points to consider include:

  • Family: What does family mean to you? How many generations of your family should you account for? Is it important to ensure that your family members can lead a life of leisure or that they have enough to achieve their personal and professional goals?
  • Charitable Giving: Are there any organizations or associations you’ve worked closely with during your lifetime? Have you, a family member or a close friend received help, support or been touched by the work of a particular organization or charity? Is there a cause you’re passionate about? Have you seen the difference a particular charity or community organization can make firsthand?

Put down on paper the values and issues that matter most to you and use that as your compass for navigating the many questions that will inevitably follow. This will help guide you toward an effective and representative estate plan. It is also a good idea to share these thoughts and decisions with your children and grandchildren. This will ensure they are fully aware of your intentions and make them more effective ambassadors of your legacy in the future.

The views expressed in this articles are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent the views of First Republic Bank.