The Importance of Estate Planning in 2021: Part 3-Leaving a Legacy

Striving for Peace in Uncertain Times

We have attended many industry seminars and conferences and we always enjoy a good motivational speaker. One that really sticks with us is Dr. Jerry Linenger, a retired U.S. Navy flight surgeon and NASA astronaut, because it really confirms the need for each of us to take time to write love letters to our family members.

Look him up! You can find Dr. Linenger’s talk on TEDx titled “Changing Perspective off the Planet.” Dr. Linenger’s story is reported to be one of the most dangerous and dramatic missions in space history. Spending nearly five months aboard the Russian space station, Mir, he faced many life-threatening events including repeated failures of the life support systems and a near miss between the space station he was living on and the re-supply spacecraft.

There were also several computer failures that, when they occurred, would send the space station tumbling uncontrollably through space. Worst of all, he and his fellow astronauts narrowly survived a raging, smoke-billowing fire that was later described as the most severe fire ever aboard an orbiting spacecraft.

During this fire, Dr. Linenger stated that he had an overwhelming and reoccurring thought: that he “hadn’t left anything behind for his newborn son.” He went on to explain that when he had started this mission, his wife was pregnant and that he wished he had left a letter for his infant son that he would be able to read when he got older. He wanted to tell his son about himself and how much he was loved. His regret was that his son would never hear the words, “I love you” coming from his father.

What can we Learn from Dr. Linenger?

John and I discussed later that evening that we thought he was going to say something about an inheritance or life insurance. However, we both took notice of Dr. Linenger’s sincerity and compassion. It was due to his realization of how much his wife and child meant to him, that he made a vow to himself that he would tell them, daily, just how much he loves and cares for them. For Jerry, having confronted the possibility that he would never be able to express that love for them again, now that he is home, he makes it a purpose that they hear those words from him every day.

While we might not be living on a space station for months at a time, we do spend time away from our families and we never know what tomorrow will bring. The current COVID response, with its quarantine requirements, has put many people who are hospitalized and in their final days in a terrible situation. They have no way to spend those days with loved ones to say the important things on their heart. No way to say goodbye.

Leaving a Legacy with Purpose

So, we would like to suggest as part of your daily life, saying “I love you,” to those you care about and to consider also creating a financial and estate legacy plan that will continue the lifestyle you have created for your family.

This legacy plan and “love” letter will be your way of communicating your values, experiences, and life lessons to your family in the event you are ill, have been stricken with dementia or Alzheimer’s and can no longer communicate those especially important things to your loved ones.

A few of the questions you can address in this letter are:

  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • Will they know for certain that you loved and cared for them to the best of your ability?
  • Have you instilled in your family the values you would like to see carried forward to the next generation?

Click here for templates for a Love Letter to My Family:

A Letter of Love Part 1: The Family’s Financial Information

A Letter of Love Part 2: My Thoughts and Wishes for My Family

While financial and estate planning are a necessity for your family’s future wellbeing, it is important to realize that “personal family planning” is a valuable way to pass on to your family who you are as a person and what you have on your heart. This planning is necessary before unfortunate circumstances make it impossible.

We encourage you: Do not miss your opportunity to leave something behind for your family…

“The only thing you take with you when you’re gone is what you leave behind” -John Allston

The advisors at Medallion Financial Group are available as a sounding board, as well as a collaborative source to work with you and your attorney as you develop your estate plan.

To read Part 1: Living Issues in our Estate Planning Series , click here.

To read Part 2: Wills and Trusts in our Estate Planning Series , click here.

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About the Authors

John and Laura Stohlman have been working with clients to help them achieve retirement success since 1987. Both John and Laura have the following designations: Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) and Chartered Federal Employee Benefits Consultant (ChFEBC®).

At Medallion Financial Group, we believe financial planning is about Family. We have been helping families invest in the future since 1987 through a holistic planning approach. We recognize there are a variety of needs when it comes to retirement planning, plan rollovers, annuities, college planning, life insurance options, and investment management. It is easy to get lost in a sea of choices. Our financial advisors help with the basics and beyond to enable our clients to get the education, advice and management they need to retire with confidence.

Our focus is twofold: first and foremost, we are fiduciary advisors. We stand against any violation of laws, values, and ethics. Second, we treat our clients as part of our family, not only those who call Maryland and Georgia home, but clients across the US who have benefited from our reputation of personal service, integrity, and expertise.

We strive to exceed client’s expectations – because we have high expectations of ourselves.