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Passing down stories, traditions and other nontangible assets

In estate planning, most people prioritize assets with monetary value, such as bank accounts and owned property. But, California planners and their families often also have non-financial assets to consider. For example, stories, traditions, journals or social media accounts may not have financial value per se, but they are often deeply meaningful to family and loved ones after passing along. Here are some of the non-financial assets to think about, along with some ways to plan to pass them down. 

  • Family history: For many families, information about shared histories is often shared orally (or worse, not shared at all).  To help future generations understand where they come from and who they are, it can help for older family members to write down what they know of the family history. Supplementing this knowledge with research can be a real treasure for family down the line. 
  • Traditions and “systems”: Family leaders often create traditions for a reason, whether it’s preparing a certain meal for a holiday or having a weekly family meeting to share information. While next of kin may not carry on all traditions, it can help to record the reasons for the systems that are in place. Is it passed down through generations, or perhaps a system developed after years of trial and error? Having this information, as well as anything needed to keep the tradition alive (a recipe, for example) can make a big difference. 
  • Public legacy: Whether it is a written book, past media coverage, or social media account, there are many ways someone may shape their legacy while alive. Leaving clear instructions for how such documents and accounts should be managed after death can help maintain continuity and respect. 

While a financial strategy is the core component of an estate plan, it is important to remember that not all value is monetary. Having a vision for how one wants to be remembered, and what knowledge and messages might support the strength of the family or community, can be helpful during the planning process. A California estate planning lawyer can help people to include certain non-financial items in estate plans, as well helping them to secure future plans for assets. 

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