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Estate planning and leaving a legacy discussions can be a little scary or a little exhilarating, and sometimes both. For many, having an estate plan to manage the transfer of assets to the next generation is just part of the picture. Legacy planning goes beyond just bequeathing assets and really sets you up to determine how you want to be remembered and how your financial assets can impact others. It’s something to consider, especially if you have a larger, more complex estate and the desire to leave more than simple assets behind. No matter your plans for the future, here’s what you need to know about setting up your legacy successfully.

What is Legacy Planning?

Legacy planning is a more comprehensive form of estate planning. When crafting a legacy, you are able to help shape how you are remembered, and to keep your passions and dedications thriving. It’s about giving your estate plan a sense of purpose. This often means setting up a charitable foundation to continue your work. Foundations can take many forms, and often hold many tax advantages. They can be set up to support local communities, the arts, a religious institution, a scholarship fund – just about anything that’s important to you.

There are two keys to setting up a successful legacy plan: hiring expertise, and family communication. Meeting with an estate planning expert can help facilitate both.

How Hiring Expertise Can Help

An expert estate planner can take a look at your assets and help you position them properly into a foundation, trust, or scholarship fund.  This is of primary importance when it comes to avoiding paying taxes on appreciated assets or additional taxes at your time of death. They can work with you and a tax specialist to earmark assets that can become charitable deductions rather than tax liabilities. A prime example of this would be highly appreciated stock. Rather than sell and pay capital gains, the stock can be placed into a charitable trust and become a charitable deduction. Making decisions like these early can help avoid taxes later, and leave more available for the cause of your choice – which is unlikely to be the IRS.

Communication with Family is Key

Communication with family and/or your heirs regarding your plans is very important. Sometimes, having a third party host a “legacy day” can be very helpful. An estate planner can facilitate a multi-generational family meeting where everyone can come together to manage expectations. Talking about what is needed and what would like to be accomplished can be very helpful in making transitions go smoothly. Managing expectations among family members can be especially helpful if there is a family business involved. Finding out who is interested in the business and who isn’t will eliminate surprises and unintended consequences.


Having a legacy plan in place goes beyond simply having a will. Having a lasting impact on the world – and on your heirs – is what legacy planning is all about. A conversation with an experienced estate planning team can help you get started on leaving a legacy to make you and your heirs proud.

To learn more about how to leave your legacy, contact our USB Wealth Management team at 866.872.1866 or drop us a line.

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