Last year, when I was preparing to hit my “sign up for Medicare” birthday, my wife and I spent several months meeting with our financial planner for a very thorough financial review.  Those meetings included an analysis of our retirement accounts, our current financial situation, our goals for the future, and testing all kinds of scenarios and variables to be able to project what the next 20-30 years might look like.  This year, we met with our long-time friend, an estate attorney, to thoroughly review and update our will, medical decision-making documents and much more.  The last two weeks, we met with our funeral-director friend to make all of our end-of-life plans and to get everything prepaid to make things much easier for our children when it’s our time to change our addresses from our earthly home to our heavenly home.  On top of it, this morning, I attended a long-time pastor friend’s memorial service.  He was two years younger than me. 

All of the above has me thinking about inheritance and legacy. Are they the same?  Are they different?  Which one is more important? And then, just this week, I got a very timely short video from Sam Chand on this topic.  Chand says, “We tend to equate inheritance with legacy. The truth is that the two are very different. Inheritance is WHAT you will leave behind; legacy is WHO you will leave behind. It’s important to plan for both.” 

Have I planned for both inheritance and legacy?  Which one will I leave behind?  Over the last 18 months, I’ve been planning primarily for inheritance.  We’ve made sure all of our “stuff” will be appropriately handled and disbursed. Our children will have no difficult decisions to make when we leave this world.  We have made the decisions so they won’t have to be burdened with them. The WHAT is taken care of.  

Our 8-yr old granddaughter expressing spontaneous praise on the Oregon Coast.

For the last several decades, we’ve been planning for legacy. We birthed and raised three children to adulthood who now have spouses and children of their own.  We founded a church which has changed the eternal destinations of thousands and redirected and transformed multiple generations for hundreds of families.  We designed, developed and executed a successful succession plan that has strategically placed top-shelf leaders in a place that will take this transformissional movement to increasing levels of impact and fruitfulness.  The WHO is handled.

It’s a great feeling to be at a juncture of life where I can look forward to the years ahead without any unfinished business.  Both the what and the who is planned for.  Both inheritance and legacy are solid.  For certain, I wish for a few more decades to enjoy my fruit growing on the trees of others.  But if something happened suddenly to me tomorrow, it’s all good!  

Now, how about you? Are you planning or already prepared for both inheritance and legacy?  It’s never really too early to plan and prepare.  In fact, legacy is best started when you are at the front end of life.  The sooner the better.  Who are you investing in?  Who or what kind of people do you want to leave behind?  In your family?  In your work world?  Through your faith influence?

Don’t forget this.  Inheritance will go away.  The house, the cars, the business, the retirement accounts, will all depreciate, deplete or decay.  Legacy will last.  The impact of the people you have left behind will have an ever-increasing ripple effect.  Generations to come will be strengthened and fortified because you have invested yourself in the people God has entrusted to your influence.  Are you being intentional about both the what and the who?  If not, then why not start today?

QUESTION:  What additional thoughts has this conversation sparked in you? I’d love to hear what is on your mind right now.

2 responses to Which One Will You Leave Behind?

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