By Bill Gallagher, CFP®, MPAS®
Will You Pass on What you Have Learned?
“When gone am I, the last of the Jedi will you be. The Force runs strong in your family. Pass on what you have learned.” – Yoda
It is tough not to listen to Yoda; I mean, he lived for 900 years. He has seen a lot during his life and was always willing to pass on the wisdom of his years to others. Before Yoda’s spirit became “one with the Force,” he shared some of this wisdom with Luke Skywalker. His message was simple: the galaxy needs the Jedi, and it is up to Luke to teach the “ways of the Force” to the next generation. Yoda understood that by teaching the Jedi traditions to the younger generation, there will always be someone there to protect the galaxy from the darkness. As I thought more about Yoda’s advice, I realized how this message can be related to financial planning, especially when we think about estate planning.
Non-Financial Aspects of Financial Planning
Over the years as a financial planner, I have learned that the numbers only tell half of the story. Some may say that the numbers tell the whole story, but there are many non-financial aspects of financial planning that I believe is just as important as the financial aspects. While we can apply this message to many financial planning topics, let’s take a minute and think about this within the context of estate planning. I am sure that when someone mentions estate planning the first few things that come to mind for many people, including myself, are the financial aspects. Will my estate be subject to estate or gift taxes? What is the cost of probate? What are the costs associated with my final expenses? How much will ultimately be leftover for my spouse or the children? Don’t get me wrong, these are very important financial aspects which you need to consider. You want to ensure that the full value of your estate passes effectively and efficiently to your loved ones. However, this is not where the conversation should end. There are other important, non-financial considerations everyone should take into account when it comes to estate planning. For example, have you thought about the family traditions you would like to pass along to the next generation?
Family Traditions & Values
Family traditions help provide family members with a sense of togetherness and can create positive memories that can be shared not only today but also in the future. They are a way of passing the family’s values, heritage, and culture from generation to generation. It is important to remember that it was these traditions that shaped your childhood and made you into the person you are today. Therefore, they should not be overlooked. I know that life can be hectic at times, and it is easy to take family traditions for granted. That is why it is crucial to take some time to reflect on these traditions, because if you neglect to, then they will go away with you. When you are reflecting on these traditions it may be helpful to think about the positive memories you have from your childhood. Perhaps you shared special moments or activities with your parents, grandparents, or siblings. Maybe it was cooking Sunday dinner with your grandmother, or working in the garage with your grandfather, or gathering around the fireplace and telling the stories of the older family generation. Passing down these traditions will create a strong bond between family members and provide the following generations with the same fond memories.
As you can see, the financial planning process is not all about numbers. There are non-financial aspects of your life that you need to incorporate into your financial plan in order to get the full story. Aligning your financial goals with your non-financial will provide you with the opportunity for success. And when it comes to estate planning, do as Yoda suggested and “pass on what you have learned.”