Logo for SYM Financial Advisors featuring the text "SYM" in large green font and "FINANCIAL ADVISORS" in smaller gray font. There is a graphic of two green, swooping lines beneath "SYM." The background is white.
A handwritten legacy letter on aged paper. The script is cursive and neatly penned, with some slight ink fading. The top portion reads "Letter 19," followed by "Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson." More text follows below, starting with "Churchill.

Write a Legacy Letter for the Ones You Love

What kind of legacy will you leave behind? In 2018, SYM reached a milestone of 50 years in business and as part of the celebration we invited Susan Turnbull, the founder and principal of Personal Legacy Advisors, LLC, to speak to our guests on the topic of legacy. Legacy, in its simplest definition, is the influence you have on the lives of other people, the way you act and create relationships, and the values and virtues you convey. Throughout the evening Susan helped us to form thoughts around these concepts and many people expressed a desire to take the next step: writing a legacy letter.

A legacy letter, also known as an “ethical will” or a modern-day love letter, is a tool designed to help your legacy extend into the future via your loved ones. Unlike estate documents, which are legally binding and dictate the transfer of assets, a legacy letter is intended to pass on important values, memories, and other intangibles to the people who are significant to you, both born and unborn. And, thanks to modern technology, a letter does not have to be a letter at all but can take the form of video, PowerPoint, or any of your favorite media.

Do you wish someone would have captured your grandparents’ stories or lessons for you to hear, in their own voice, today? To share with your children? What about your own parents, a favorite aunt, your siblings; how long will the important people in your life live on?

A legacy letter is one, beautiful solution for the generational transfer of a lifetime of wisdom and experience. In fact, the process of reflecting on your life and the values you convey can help you learn much about yourself, and help you define exactly what legacy you want to leave. Do you feel you don’t have much “wisdom” to pass on?   A legacy letter can also be used to simply express love and gratitude to those closest to you and it also makes a good format to share some of your life stories. Paired with a legal will, a legacy letter could increase the possibility of your wishes being followed by your heirs after you’re gone.

Many of us spend significant time, energy, and dollars planning for the transfer of tangible assets to the next generation. What about taking the time to pass along your stories, your essence, to make sure the time you spent on this earth is not completely lost to future generations?

Reflecting on your life and the values, stories, or anecdotes you wish to emphasize is a very intentional undertaking, and the earlier you start the more time you will have to gather your thoughts and put pen to paper. Any time is the best time to start – don’t wait for a perfect moment. Young people still growing their family can record the life lessons they want to instill in their children. Older people can share memories and life experiences for the purpose of impacting future generations who will share their lineage, but never know them. Legacy letters do not have to be written in one sitting and can be an ongoing experience, adding to it in times of recollection, happiness and hardship.

Starting your legacy letter should not be a daunting or intimidating task. Susan suggests writing a first, short entry, putting yourself in the role of the recipients to motivate you. Recognize how lucky the recipients will feel because you committed the time and energy to leaving behind a bit of yourself.

Sophisticated writing skills are not required.  Neither are full sentences; you can write a bulleted list if you choose. In fact, there are no wrong ways to write a legacy letter, as long as it’s written with love.

You can reference Susan’s legacy presentation below to as a way to get started. If you’re stuck, Susan also created a workbook, The Wealth of Your Life: A Step-by-Step Guide for Creating Your Ethical Will, to help with this process.

Find the recording of Susan’s presentation at https://www.sym.com/the-wealth-of-life-its-more-than-money-with-susan-turnbull/

To contact your SYM team with specific questions, call 800-888-7968 to speak with an advisor.


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