Key takeaways

  • Legacy planning involves envisioning how you want your money to be used and where it can make an impact.

  • Strategies like charitable giving, impact investing and establishing a trust as part of your estate plan can ensure loved ones are taken care of, special causes are advanced and your legacy continues.

When you think of the legacy you want to leave for future generations, you might think of the memories you share with loved ones or the influence you have on those around you. While these intangible aspects of life are invaluable, it’s important to consider how the tangible things you leave behind—like your money and other assets—might help extend that influence long after you’re gone. That’s where legacy planning comes in.


What does it mean to leave a legacy?

Legacy planning involves considering how you’d like to use your money and assets to make an impact that supports your values. Weighing your options ahead of time can help ensure you leave a legacy you’re proud of—one that takes care of your loved ones and advances the causes you care about.

Through strategies like charitable giving, using a trust as part of your estate plan, and impact investing, you can create a plan that aligns with your beliefs and helps you achieve your goals. Here are three ways to use your wealth to leave the legacy you want.

Learn more in our eBook.

There are limitless possibilities when it comes to creating a legacy plan that lives up to your specific goals and desires; it can be as unique as you are. 

Charitable giving: Create a giving plan for your legacy

Including charitable giving in your legacy plan doesn’t just provide a deep sense of fulfillment. It can also extend your influence for years to come. Yet it requires some thoughtful planning and due diligence to make sure your wishes are executed as intended.

  1. Be clear about your intentions. Which causes mean the most to you, and why? Whether you have a personal connection to a cause or want to contribute money to an organization that supports your beliefs, honing in on the charities you want to support is a great place to start if you haven’t already. It’s also important to do your due diligence to ensure the specific organizations of your choosing are legitimate—and to think about successor charities in case any of these organizations end up closing their doors.
  2. Talk to your loved ones about your charitable intent. Lay the groundwork now that giving will be a part of your legacy to avoid misunderstandings after you’re gone.
  3. Involve your children or grandchildren. As Nora Garvey, senior vice president and regional director at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management, explains, it’s never too early to start that dialogue. It’s important to engage the family early, even talking to your kids as young as toddlers,” Garvey says. “If Christmas is coming, you can help them pick two toys: one for the family and one to give away. Bring them to charity events so they can understand that their parents are giving in nature. Modeling those values from a young age will help them understand that charitable giving is a part of your family legacy.”
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s also possible to know that you want to be charitably inclined but have questions about how much you can afford to give—and that’s ok too, as a wealth advisor can step in to help. “When we do cash flow and net worth planning, that helps us either accelerate charitable giving or pull back if that money is needed for someone’s lifestyle right now,” says Garvey. “There are different ways to allocate funds to give now or later.”


Trust planning strategies for your legacy legacy

Trusts are another useful tool to help allocate your resources in a way that supports your legacy—and they can fulfill multiple objectives. For example, using a trust to leave a legacy can help ensure your loved ones are taken care of while also leaving funds to charitable causes.

“People may want to take care of their family first and then give the remainder to charity,” Garvey says. “We can do that by adding charity as a default provision if there are assets left over. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy, because it depends on the clients’ net worth, and their family and their goals.”

These types of trusts (also called legacy trusts) are irrevocable, meaning they cannot be changed after they are created. While some might view that rigidity as a drawback, they offer the benefit of potentially minimizing certain taxes. (Someone considering trust planning in general but who wants more flexibility may want to look into revocable trusts instead).

Garvey cautions that clients shouldn’t let taxes dictate their entire legacy plan, however. “Certainly, it’s a key part,” she acknowledges. “But in general, don’t make all of your decisions based solely on what your tax benefit is going to be.” Your wealth advisor can work with you to determine which trust planning strategy makes sense for your net worth, your goals and your family.


Leveraging wealth to make a difference through impact investing

A third strategy to consider in your legacy planning is impact investing. Impact investing is defined as “investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.”1 If impact investing is something you want to include in your plans, a wealth advisor can help you consider your options so that you can invest according to your values with the potential to also see a financial return.

“Keep in mind that impact investing may not get the same returns as a fully diversified portfolio,” Garvey says. Yet she underscores the need to prioritize what’s most important to you and the legacy you wish to leave behind.

“My job is to educate you on all the possibilities,” she says. “I’m going to give you all the different paths, and you get to decide which one makes the most sense for you and your family and the goals you have for your legacy.”


Learn more about legacy planning

There are limitless possibilities when it comes to creating a legacy plan that lives up to your specific goals and desires; it can be as unique as you are. Download our eBook, How to use your wealth to make a difference, for an in-depth look at three strategies outlined above. With some thoughtful planning and strategy, you can leave a legacy to be proud of—one that extends your impact for generations to come.

Learn how we can help you support the people and causes you care about for generations to come.

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  1. What You Need to Know About Impact Investing. Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN).

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