Legacy planning is the ultimate in deferred gratification. Sacrificing now for rewards later is difficult at best for most people. Imagine putting off seeing the results of your efforts forever, because you’ll be dead when your plans come to fruition. Prepping for benefits you’ll never see is another thing. How do you do that?
First, remember that you’ve come this far by hard work and sacrifice. Your business, your career, your portfolio are all the result of hard work and sacrifice. Of course, all of those are things that you see and enjoy now (or soon), while you’re alive. You can see arrange your legacy plan to begin to take shape while you’re alive. Philanthropic gifts are often rewarded with acknowledgements like plaques and such. It’s not a terribly big deal, nor is it sufficient reason to give. It is something to look at though and it will be there (probably) after you’re dead. If you are able to accumulate a museum quality art collection, you can gift it to your favorite institution while you are able to see it, and while they’re able to see and fete you. You’ll also get to spend your life buying great art! Tangible recognitions can serve as a comforting reminder of bigger things to come if you stay the course, ever increasing your capacity to give.
Involving your children and grandchildren in philanthropic decision making not only helps to insure that your wishes are carried out in perpetuity, but watching them participate gives you some shorter term gratification that makes growing an endowment fund even more rewarding. It may take generations for your family foundation to grow its endowment to where it can be mentioned in the opening credits of a performance of the ballet or opera company of your choice. A donor advised fund or a family charitable trust are great tools for family philanthropy.
We all know that recognition, current or posthumous, is not why we give. Realistically though, being remembered for giving generously to causes and institutions that you love (and maybe having your name on some stuff) is pretty cool to think about. You will want to consult professionals to be sure your giving is effective and that your monies aren’t squandered on taxes. Existing beyond this life, through philanthropy, is a completely worthwhile goal.
William S Jiggetts