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[Meet life goals] Leaving a legacy

5 May 2023

Mark Glover

Head of Financial Planning, HSBC Wealth and Personal Banking

Key takeaways

  • Legacy goals can vary widely and may be financially and non-financially focused. It’s important to identify what matters most to you and your family.
  • Leaving a legacy requires a thoughtful and strategic approach, which includes developing a plan, considering options, communicating with family, preparing heirs, and updating your plan regularly.
  • To achieve your legacy goals, it’s important to start the planning process sooner. Seeking professional advice can help to maximise your chances to carry out your wishes smoothly.

As your life course progresses, eventually you may set your sights on what you may leave behind, your legacy.

The term legacy can mean different things to different people. Many legacy goals will consider the financial aspect – how to pass on wealth. However, not all legacy goals are purely financial, and they can vary widely depending on your values, interests, and priorities. Before considering what should be left behind, you should first think about what matters most to you and your family.

Here, we outline some of the considerations and steps for establishing your legacy goals at ease.

Financially focused

  • Family and personal legacy: Leaving a legacy for your family, such as bequeathing your wealth, but also things like writing a family history, or passing on important family traditions and values.
  • Entrepreneurship: Building a successful business, creating jobs, and driving innovation that will benefit future generations, including your family.
  • Philanthropy: Leaving a legacy of charitable giving, supporting causes that are important to you, and making a positive impact on the world.

Non-financial focused

  • Artistic or creative achievements: Leaving behind a body of work in the arts, such as writing, music, or visual art, that will continue to inspire and influence others.
  • Advocacy and activism: Making a difference in the world through many aspects, such as environmental conservation, cultural and religious preservation, or even social and political advocacy, promoting positive change and leaving a legacy of social justice and equality.
  • Education and mentorship: Helping to shape the lives of future generations through education and mentorship, sharing knowledge and wisdom that will endure long after you are gone.
  • Scientific or technological advancement: Making significant contributions to science, technology, innovation, or medicine that will improve the quality of life for future generations.

The key is to identify what is most important to you and to work towards leaving a positive and lasting impact on the world. 

Intergenerational Wealth Transfer

Many people want to pass on wealth to their family. Taking a thoughtful and strategic approach can help you ensure that your wealth is managed and distributed in a way that reflects your values and supports the long-term success of your family. You can increase your chances of success by having the necessary structures in place (for example, legal frameworks and business succession plans) as well as by including other people, such as family, friends & trusted advisors.

Before making your plans, you should consider what you want and involve your family where relevant. What’s your overarching purpose for the wealth, for yourself, for your family and how do they all come together?

Intergenerational wealth transfer can be a complex process, but here are 5 steps you can take to make it smoother and more successful:

1. Develop a plan

The first step is to develop a plan for passing on your wealth. This may involve working with financial and legal advisors, or other professionals to help you develop a comprehensive plan that considers your assets, taxes, and family dynamics. Don’t forgot to consider what you will need to retain to cover your own spending.

2. Consider your options

There are many options for passing on wealth to your family, including insurance, gifts, trusts, and inheritances. Each option has different advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to carefully consider which approach is best for your situation.

3. Communicate with your family

It's vital to communicate openly and honestly with your family about your intentions for passing on wealth. This can help prevent misunderstandings and potential conflicts and ensure that your wishes are carried out as you intended.

4. Prepare your heirs

Preparing your heirs for inheriting wealth can help ensure that they are equipped to manage their finances wisely and make good decisions. This may involve setting an ideal timing of inheritance, providing financial education, mentoring and guidance on managing wealth responsibly.

5. Update your plan regularly

It's important to update your plan regularly to reflect changes in your interpersonal dynamics, financial situation, and tax laws. This can help ensure that your plan remains effective and achieves your goals.

Legacy planning can be a complex area, where professional advice can be very beneficial. Timing is also an important consideration, so starting having conversations sooner maximises your chances of meeting your legacy goals. Passing on wealth to your family can be a significant and meaningful way to leave a legacy for future generations. No matter what your legacy goals are, taking time to consider them is an important first step to realising them.

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