Toss out the term “legal will” and there is no need to explain what you mean. Research conducted by estate planners indicates Baby Boomers will pass down roughly $41 trillion during the next few decades. How? Legal wills.
Certainly, material possessions are important. But two separate Alliance American Legacies studies affirm traditions, values, wishes, and stories trump things. In summary, “Boomers and Elders agreed: Inheritance is not ‘owed’ to children. But family stories should be passed down.”
Jay Hughes, author of Family Wealth, writes, “Stories inoculate families against the shirtsleeves-to-shirtsleeves in three generations syndrome. Every family I know that successfully preserves its wealth sets aside time at family gatherings for sharing its unique history.”
Mrs. Lavern Norris Gaynor, heiress to the Texaco fortune, says, “It is my obligation to tell my story. It is stories, not sterling, that link generations.”
Former President Barak Obama says, “When so much of our politics is trying to manage this clash of cultures brought about by globalization and migration, the role of stories to unify is more important than ever. Storytelling brings people together to have the courage to take action on behalf of their lives.”
I call human beings homo narratus–storytelling animals. Our brains are hardwired to think in, tell, and remember stories. Stories are the heartbeat of the human experience. They teach us who we were, who we are, and who we can be.
What is your story?