Your Legacy: A ‘Stamp on the Future’

Photo of a smiling senior woman teaching her daughter, her son-in-law, and grandsons how to make homemade pasta in the kitchen; having a great time while making food and enjoying each other's company.

The idea behind leaving a legacy is to leave a lasting footprint, be it tangible or intangible, that reminds future generations of your contributions, values, beliefs, and impact on the world. It’s about being remembered and having made a difference, whether on a small scale or large.

There are plenty of well-known people who left or will leave a big legacy. Serena Williams in tennis, Albert Einstein in physics, and singer Tony Bennett are good examples. But, really, each of us will leave a legacy of some kind to our family, our community, colleagues, or others. It is simply a side-effect of everyday life.

In their later years, many people think about creating a legacy purposefully. One writer described it as “putting a stamp on the future.” This is a normal human desire to be remembered and to be of value to future generations. Your legacy may be financial security for your loved ones, special mementos for your grandchildren, or even participating in a medical research study. Here are some other meaningful ways you can leave a lasting impact for your family and community:

Written or recorded memories: Create a memoir or journal of your life’s experiences, lessons, and stories. If writing isn’t your thing, consider recording audio or video messages. Your family will treasure these personal anecdotes and life lessons. Check out Audivi, a smartphone app that records both memories and related photos in a “personalized memory bank” that can be replayed again and again.   

Personal artifacts: Create a time capsule or scrapbook containing important mementos, letters, photos, and heirlooms. These physical items will be cherished keepsakes for generations to come.

Educational fund: Rather than just leaving money, set up an educational fund for your grandchildren or even future generations. This can provide them with opportunities to further their education and personal growth.

Family tree research: Delve into genealogy and create a detailed family tree. This provides descendants with a connection to their roots.

Community projects: Consider funding or initiating a community project, like a park, library, or scholarship. This benefits not only your family but also the wider community.

Sustainable giving: Set up a charitable trust or endowment that supports causes close to your heart. This will keep giving back to the community or specific organizations long after you’re gone.

Plant a tree or garden: This can be symbolic of life and growth. A family tree or garden can be a place for reflection, and it benefits the environment as well.

Support local arts: Sponsor a seat or brick at a local theater or community center. This acts as a long-lasting reminder of your support for the arts and culture in the community.

Organ donation: If you’re comfortable with it, consider becoming an organ donor. This can be a way of giving the gift of life.

Create a family recipe book: Compile your favorite recipes, especially those that have been passed down or hold special memories. This can become a cherished family heirloom.

Whatever you decide, your desire to leave a meaningful legacy will surely be appreciated by your family and community. And with the holiday season just around the corner, you may have a great project or idea to discuss at gatherings with your loved ones.