By Mary Grace Musuneggi
Just about the time a President’s term is coming to an end, there is talk about what he wants his legacy to be. The same discussion often happens when a leader leaves the business world or a non-profit organization.
But a “legacy” is not just for the great leaders of our world. It is for all of us who are great in our own worlds. We all have a legacy. What will we leave behind when we leave this earth? How will people think of us? What have we done to add to the world or to make it a better place? What have we taught our children? What have we given to those we love?
Here is an idea I heard of years ago: pretend you are attending your own funeral and listening to what people will say about you. What do you think you would hear? What did you accomplish that you want everyone to know about? And what did you do that no one will know about or speak about…but you are proud to have accomplished?
One way many of us contribute to our world is through volunteering and charitable
giving. When I am asked by people who are retiring, “What will I do every day if I am not working?” my first suggestion is to consider volunteering. The world is in desperate need of volunteers, and there are organizations that need you–from medical research, to educational programs, to animal rescue, to the environment, to religious causes, you are bound to find something that fits your passion. This can be your legacy…or at least a part of it.
If you regularly donate to charity or other worthy cause, put money in your church collection, tithe, or spend money at a fundraiser, you are one of those special people who helps to contribute to the betterment of our world, even if just a small part of it. And this, too, is part of your legacy.
Believing in the premise that you will “reap what you sow” and “get what you give,” you probably find that your reward for charity comes in feeling good about what you are doing, or by an increase of abundance in your life, or maybe even in the value of the tax deduction you can claim. In any case, those organizations who share in your generosity are very appreciative. They love you!
Finding the time to build your legacy is one thing. But where will you find the money to build your legacy, if that is what is required?
Tithing–giving away 10% of your income–is a good start and one of the central themes in abundant living.
Sharing an inheritance is another. If you have been fortunate enough to receive assets from a family member or friend, you may want to leave part of that as your legacy.
Or, if you routinely give from your income or assets to a charity, considering giving IRA money instead of non-IRA assets. This is especially great if you have to take a Required Minimum Distribution every year once you are over 70 ½. You can have IRA assets sent to a charity, which is a tax-free strategy for you and the charity. It’s a win-win.
A sustainable legacy that will continue long after you have passed on is a Foundation. Most people think these are only for the rich and famous, but you can start a foundation for as little as $10,000. That money can be added to the foundation today, or it can be done once you pass away. You can name the foundation whatever you want (I named mine after my mom) and you can dictate who will receive the funds: the elderly, or dogs, or children, or the earth…it is entirely up to you.
Whatever the case, we only live once. But if we do it right, once is enough.
The Musuneggi Financial Group is proud to partner with the Pittsburgh Foundation to assist clients and friends in developing a legacy. For more information, please contact our offices at 412-341-2888 x 0