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Leaving a Legacy in Retirement

Dave Bernard

As we contemplate retirement, we tend to focus on what we will do with our newly discovered free time. Retirement can be exciting, a bit challenging and may even make you feel slightly nervous about exactly what is ahead.

In addition to planning for retirement life, some people use this time to look further out and think about what their life will mean to friends and family after they are gone. You might find yourself wondering about how others will recall your life and what you will be most remembered for.

Many people feel it is important to leave a legacy. You may hope to be remembered for some action, deed or provision made for future generations. Some individuals carry this to extremes as they endeavor to build a dynasty that will live on long after they are gone. Other people have less lofty goals and may be happy to leave behind a little money or property to their heirs.

If you have worked and struggled all your life to become successful, you might want to make things a bit easier on those who follow. By leaving some type of inheritance, you could help future generations get a head start on their life or provide them with a safety net. On the other hand, you could feel it is a mistake to leave any significant inheritance and prefer to let your children earn their own way, just like you did. If unearned, money may only serve to foster a feeling of entitlement and false security that later in life could be a problem.

You could also create a legacy based on the nature of the life you lived, the memory of the person you were and the good you did. Rather than hand down something material, you may hope that your memory will bring an honest smile or a moment's pause in an otherwise busy day as the next generation takes solace in remembering a quality life lived. While an inheritance may eventually be used up, a living memory goes on.

With that said, this may be an ideal opportunity to take a closer look at the person you are and will ultimately be remembered as. The life you live today will become the substance of future fireside stories and fond memories. If there is some part of your personality that you would rather not be remembered for, perhaps you should do some pruning while you have the time to do so. Consider this your chance to stack the deck in favor of the person you would like to be remembered as.

As for my personal legacy, I hope that when my children think of me they will remember a caring dad with a quirky sense of humor who was always able to bring out a smile no matter what the situation. I hope they remember a man who was kind to others, and who enjoyed and appreciated each day lived. Although this will not increase the size of their bank account, perhaps it might help them to live a life they would be proud to be remembered for.

Dave Bernard is the author of "I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be". Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.

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