Leave a Rich Legacy: Estate Planning with Check-Out

Young women thinking with note book and pen

Whether we make the choice or not, we’re all leaving some kind of legacy behind.

Here’s the thing, you don’t have to be “rich” to leave behind a legacy that positively impacts the lives of others. Sometimes the simplest gestures live on through future generations. Did you know that you can take steps to secure how you’re remembered as well as what you’re remembered for? Literally for the price of a decent pair of shoes, a platform at will help you build an impactful legacy for your family and friends.  

Leaving a legacy is an act of responsibility. Caring people don’t simply leave behind good or bad memories. Instead, they create their legacies by building a life founded upon caring enough about others to leave something meaningful and positive behind. When it’s time to depart, what can you leave behind?

Young man reading a book

Consider the following 10 questions as you assess what kind of legacy may be the best for you:

1. What do you want your life to stand for?

2. How do you want to be remembered by your family and friends?

3. What will those beyond your circle of family and friends remember you for?

4. What kind of an impact do you want to have on your community?

5. How will the world be a better place because you were in it?

6. What contributions do you want to make to your field?

7. Whose lives will you have touched?

8. What lessons would you like to pass on to future generations?

9. What do you want to leave behind?

10. How can you serve?

And now, here are some examples of how you can leave a legacy that benefits your community and the world at large and how makes it easy:

1. Sharing beneficial knowledge

Contributing knowledge that continues to be implemented after the individual’s passing might seem like a tall order, but it isn’t.

This could take the form of sharing beneficial knowledge with the right intention. It could be a principle someone lived by and taught others to follow such as “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” It might be day-to-day mannerisms that those around us learn and follow, and pass on to others. All kinds of beneficial knowledge—large or small—with the right intention, can count towards the value you leave behind.

Perhaps your knowledge could take the shape of a book you author, delivering fresh insights or new takeaways in your field of interest or specialisation. Think about this. How many of us really contribute knowledge of valuable and perpetual relevance to others? If you have something of value to say and share, make it so! However, an easier approach would be to simply share your knowledge in the “Making Memories,” section of This section helps you build a complete legacy of who you are and how you want to be remembered. And then share it with the people most important to you. It’s that easy!  

2. Create something of ongoing benefit

An ongoing benefit essentially means creating a ceaseless/ongoing form of charity. There are many accessible and impactful activities that one can do that will continue to circulate benefit beyond our existence, and that continues to benefit humanity long after they are gone.

Heart shaped wreath layed against tree

Some examples of an ongoing benefit are:

• Buy a Life Insurance Policy for Someone Special
There are many options to life insurance policies but talk to an insurance broker about a policy where you take care of the lifetime payments. The policy will have an accruing cash value and the beneficiary can borrow against it.

• Pre-purchase a Memorial Park Bench and/or Trees
These are relatively inexpensive and can be appreciated and enjoyed by many generations to come. A commemorative park bench provides a spot to rest and relax and is usually placed in a location with a view. The bench is a welcome place to stop and rest for people out for a casual walk or even the more energetic hiker. The memorial tree provides beauty and shade to the passersby and contributes to the health of our planet and ecosystem. As well, the contribution may also be tax deductible. Contact your local city or municipality for more information.

• Leave Money, Tools or Knowledge for Your Descendants
These serve as a foundation on which they can build their financial futures. A will, living will or end-of-life plan will let your family, your lawyer and the government know your intentions. Ok, for this one, you’ll need a bit of dough.

• Write Down Family Recipes and Family Traditions
At least as valuable as money, leaving behind a map on how things were done in the past will be invaluable to future generations. The “Making Memories” section at is designed for this purpose.

• Pass down heirlooms such as handmade items, quilts, cedar hope chests, or wooden crafts
Add these items to “Taking Stock” section and share the plan with family to ensure that valued possessions or family heirlooms don’t end up in the “Donations” box.

• Pass down skills, language, traditions and knowledge
Again, the true wealth of any family is the bridge to the memory and knowledge of those who came before. Technology such as the easy to use “Making Memories” section provides a myriad of ways to record and share this valuable information.

Ask your estate planner or lawyer to help you ensure that your wishes are accommodated.

3. Write a Just-in-Case letter

Write down everything you’d want to tell your loved ones if you knew you didn’t have long to live. Check-Out’s Having “The Talk” section helps you capture the essence of who you are by encouraging you to write about your life lessons, values, accomplishments and hopes. Think of it as an emotional heirloom. You can also record video messages for your loved ones or create a memorial scrapbook for them. Use the tools in to write and store your letter, videos and digital scrapbook material.

4. Leave a Legacy Quotation

Whether you write it yourself or utilise the vast body of inspiration quotes out there, a legacy quotation can succinctly provide comment on who you are, or what you stand for.

Legacy quotes can be incorporated into many elements of your end-of-life celebrations or memorial including on a gravesite marker, in your eulogy, on the memorial program guide.

Statue of Benjamin Franklin, Paris.

Here are some legacy quotes for inspiration:

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
– Benjamin Franklin

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Try and leave this world a little better than you found it, and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate, you have not wasted your time but have done your best.”
– Robert Baden-Powell

We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”
– Chuck Palahniuk

5. Build an institution with significant social impact

This one’s going to take some substantial coin. Institutions, if properly established and administered, help our communities and long outlast our existence. For those who have the means, building real institutions instead of internally-focused contributions is a legacy with significant social impact. It’s easy to start looking for opportunities to make an impact that lasts long beyond our lifetimes.

Chimpanzee habitat Gombe jungle

Some examples of worthy institutions are:

• The David Suzuki Foundation

• Jane Goodall Institute

• Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind

Sea Shepard Foundation

There are so many worthy causes that need our help! A web search for “Top-Rated Charities” will help you discover institutions that align with your values. When money’s involved, make sure your estate planner or lawyer have included this wish into your will.

6. Whole body or organ/tissue donation

While this kind of contribution might not be easily recognised by the world at large, to the person whose lives you will impact, and their family, it can be of massive significance. There are many stories of families doing their best to honor the person whose contribution has allowed the life of their loved one to improve or continue. 

In Conclusion

Most of us strive to live moral, healthy lives without harming others – and when possible, helping others. We are stewards of this world; and we ought to leave it better than we found it. When you donate in the true spirit of helping others, you’re helping yourself, too. Everyday lived well, with a sense of purpose, and with the goal to help others increases your happiness and wellness. What will your legacy be? What will live on after you’re gone? Live your best life by creating a legacy you can be proud of. As you can see here, monetary wealth is NOT required to make a difference in the lives of others after you’re gone.

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