Legacy is often understood as leaving behind a property or tangible assets to be inherited by successors. And Financial Will is the instrument of such legal succession. This, no doubt, ensures easy and smooth transition of one’s tangible property, both movable as well as immovable. This also translates transition of property of the deceased in terms of his / her intent and prevents any possible chaos / confusion after death.
However, the said process only takes care of financial assets. While financial estates are important, the other aspects, possibly more important ones, are often forgotten. This includes the intangible legacy of an individual. Every person is repository of knowledge, skills, attitude, values and ethos that normally remain within the contours of the individual himself / herself and goes away with his / her death. If the real memory of an individual is to be kept alive, and carried forward over time, it is important to keep a track of the intangible assets a person possesses and get these passed on.
Writing a Legacy Journal:
It is in this context the new concept of Legacy Journal (LJ) becomes important. LJ is the documentation of one’s life journey recording all experiences and the associated values / feelings that a people intends to pass on to next generation. The other associated concept is Emotional Will.
There is no standard format of writing a Legacy Journal nor is there any word limit. However, since it is only a document and not a full-fledged book, we recommend that it may be of maximum ten (10) pages with around 2,000 to 2,500 words. It can be typed or written in one’s own handwriting. It is easier for those who are in the habit of writing a daily diary of their life activities as they can extrapolate the LJ from there. Otherwise, an elderly person should take some time to think, recollect and reflect on various activities / initiatives of the past (both immediate as well as early part of life) and then try to write the recollected stories.
Broadly, a Legacy Journal consists of 3 parts:
First Part: Personal details comprising name, address, date of birth, and other personal details of the LJ writer (elderly person).
Second Part: This part normally comprises of recall of various types of memories / stories since childhood. These include:
Early childhood memories including quality time spent with parents / grandparents and associated feelings / values imbibed.
School remembrances including names of good teachers, their impressions and values imbibed from them. Names of some intimate friends and sweet time with them may be recollected.
College recollections with remembrance of good faculty and values imbibed from them. Names of close college friends and impressions about them may be recollected.
Professional / job life: Reminiscences of good friends / colleagues, types of bosses / subordinates, various kinds of incidents and their handling, decision making processes, communication with various people during professional life, interaction with customers / strangers and finally the life lasting impressions one carries that need to be shared.
Relationship with spouse: Satisfying memories, nature of interactions and various types of behavioural disparity / synchronization and common values shared.
Connection with children / grand children: Enjoyable memories of their upbringing, interaction with them, solving their problems / issues, being mentor to them, values learnt / shared with them.
Interaction with other relatives: Nice memories of time spent with siblings, in-laws, and other extended members of family and nature of values imbibed and shared with them.
Friendship with others: Gratifying memories of relationship with members of walking clubs, laughter clubs, senior citizen groups, arts / dance clubs, etc, and interaction with them, their cherished memories and common values shared.
Third Part: The concluding part of the LJ comprises the final messages of the journal writer (elderly person) in terms of:
Messages he / she want to give next generation arising out of his / her experiences.
Any special message to a particular member of family or any other person.
Summary of values he / she thinks are important for keeping the family principles intact and wants his / her inheritors to imbibe.
Words of advice to the inheritors.
Handling of Legacy Journal:
Since this is not a legal document, no formal protocols are required for its maintenance. But we suggest that it is made known to one to two (1 to 2) members of the family in advance after the document is ready and should be made available to the family after demise of the LJ writer. This will be a great way to pass on and inherit value system across generations.
Legacy Journal (LJ) is a new concept worth trying as it helps in smooth transition of the feelings / values of a person across generations. It is a good way to keep the memories intact. Legacy Journal is, in fact, more important than a Financial Will.
Dr A K Sen Gupta, Co-Founder and Chief Trustee of My Retired Life Foundation (MRLF). He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 9821128103.