We do estate planning because we want to make sure that our loved ones are taken care of at the time of our passing. At the very least, we would want our wealth to be preserved and distributed according to our wishes in order to provide the ones we leave behind with financial stability. While the purchase of life insurance and passing down of the family home may be at the forefront of our minds, a recent article on Wall Street Journal reminds us that we should be passing along values before passing along valuables. The article highlights the recent efforts of educators, financial advisers, and technology providers to encourage older members of the family to share their life lessons while teaching the younger adult children and grandchildren to learn from their elder’s experiences. Here are just a few ways that the older generation can pass along their nuggets of wisdom to their younger relations:

Make the most of family gatherings. The relaxed, casual atmosphere of a family gathering is the best place for the older relatives to impart their memories and traditions. The adult children and grandchildren should take this opportunity to “tap their parents’ and grandparents’ thoughts.” More than just listening to an entertaining tale, they should be proactive in asking about the life lessons that can be garnered from their elder’s anecdotes.

Document your values for future generations. Older family members should also consider preserving their thoughts as a guide for future generations. An ethical will or mission statement could be an effective means of conveying the values and principles for their family to carry on or build upon.

Take advantage of today’s technology. What better way to communicate with the younger adults than through a medium that they are most familiar with? A video will go a long way in effectively relating one’s stories and lessons to a young audience. There are also websites and tools, such as Yourafterlife.com, that help people put together their thoughts, stories, and photos into a digital autobiography that they can share with their family and friends.

The full article ends with these words of wisdom from Jim Stovall, who authored a best-selling novel called “The Ultimate Gift,” where a wealthy old man bequeaths 12 life lessons to his spoiled nephew. “I think it is critical that people pass along their values before they pass along their valuables,” he says. “Giving second- or third-generation family members resources without a mental, emotional and informational foundation is like giving them a loaded weapon without instruction or caution.”


(Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)