Family Values and History Are Still the Best Inheritance

Wondering how to ensure your family values, traditions and history are passed on to future generations?  Here are some ideas from Door County Estate Planning Attorney Robert Ross to help you get started.

  • Encourage elders to tell stories about their family and their own lives and experiences.  Family gatherings when multiple generations are present are perfect, but one-on-one conversations work well too.  Videotape as much as possible to capture not only words, but also the storyteller’s personality and mannerisms.  No need to have a formal interview; just put the camera on and let it roll.  Don’t tape too long at a time though; the storyteller could tire easily.  If you don’t have video equipment, assign someone to take notes and share the stories with other family members.
  • Scrapbooking and photo albums are great ways to document family history by themes and occasions.  Just be sure photos are identified with names, dates, and places.
  • Write your memoirs or autobiography, family history, or a collection of essays about your relatives or what life was like when you were growing up.
  • Write letters to your children or grandchildren about life lessons you would like them to learn from you.
  • Share your faith and/or testimony with family members in person or in writing.
  • Create a family medical history.  Include date and location of births and deaths, cause of death, burial location, marriages and children, notable illnesses and medical conditions.
  • Make an inventory of special family heirlooms and possessions.  Take a photo of each and document its story.  If you want a certain person to receive a certain item, include that in your estate plan.  Better yet, if you can bear to part with it, go ahead and give it to that person now.
  • Use the internet to share family history and traditions with other members of your family.  Create a family website.  Post stories or videos of your elder storytellers and old family photos.  Document family reunions, marriages, births, and passings.

Note:   If you store information on your computer or online, be sure to provide access for someone else in the event something happens to you.  Include specific information about where files or accounts are located and passwords that might be needed to access them.

Most importantly, talk with your parents or children about end-of-life issues (incapacity and health care directives, location of important financial documents, estate planning) and what is important to them and to you.  Do this now, before illness or aging interfere and prevent you from having these discussions.

For more information call Ross Estate Planning, LLC at 920-743-9117.



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