Dennis Toman founded The Elderlaw Firm with a mission of planning and protecting for local families, to be better prepared for elder care and other legal issues for the second half of life. Please call 336-396-8988 ext. 208.
When it comes to leaving an inheritance to loved ones, many boomers and seniors automatically think of leaving cash, real estate, business interests, and life insurance proceeds to family.
But for those who find themselves devastated after the loss of a loved one, often intangible assets carry the most value and provide deep comfort.
These days, the phrase “intangible asset” seems to have multiple meanings. In the estate planning world, we refer to intangible assets as memories and mementos that are left behind for loved ones. These are items that extend beyond money and material things in order to share your story and your family history.
Most people do not realize that intangible assets can be incorporated into their estate plan for the benefit of their family when they are gone. Examples might include:
- Handwritten letters to individual friends and family members that express your feelings for them
- A written family history and important genealogies
- Adding your notes to old pictures and slides, with names and places
- A DVD recording of you sharing memories, encouraging your loved ones, or telling stories of your childhood
- Letters and recordings to be delivered at predetermined times, such as birthdays, wedding days, the birth of a child, etc.
Imagine having some of these items from people you may have lost through the years. I know in my practice, I’ve worked with folks who kept their loved one’s cell phone service current just so they could call and hear their voicemail again. It’s the same type of feeling when these intangible items are created for family members.
Doing these things gives you an ongoing opportunity to offer your support, share your pride, and instill your values on those whom you love the most. Moreover, you may also help to ease their grief, as they can still feel your guidance and encouragement in their lives.
Please remember that there’s no right or wrong way to create intangible assets for your loved ones—but do let your attorney know what you are doing so he or she can properly incorporate them into your estate plan.