Legacy, Heritage, and Family

When a client comes into Karen’s office for the first time, she asks them to consider their heritage. As she likes to say, your heritage is someone else’s legacy. Estate planning, for Karen, is about the connection between generations and the memories we leave with one another.

When drafting estate planning documents, clients often think Karen is asking only about material legacies. After all, you can’t pass down memories of a baseball game or piano lessons through a will. Any material item we pass on to our children, however, is meant to help them carry on the true traditions and memories that they inherited.

While sorting through Karen’s older posts and essays, Karen’s daughter found the following quote from 2009, which reflects on Karen’s predictions of her own legacy:

“So now I ponder what my children will consider their heritage. I’m sure it will include the Irish drinking songs their father taught them. I also hope they think of books at bedtime, Christmas toy drives, and Thanksgiving dinners that always included people who were family but weren’t related by blood. I wouldn’t complain if those were part of my legacy.”

A decade later, her children are adults. Her son is married and pursuing his passion for museum education in South Dakota. Her daughter currently lives in Alaska and often helps write this blog. In addition to the above memories, both humorous and serious, that Karen hoped they would retain as teenagers, their heritage includes a fierce appreciation for education and the written word, passed through Karen from three generations of women who once had to struggle to get their diplomas. Their heritage also places a high value on travel–both to discover new places and to visit Colorado, which will always be their home.