Leaving a Positive Family Legacy

Leaving a Positive Family Legacy

by Susan Neuhalfen

In his 30 years as an estate planner, Bartonville resident Guy Hatcher has worked with some very successful individuals and families. After sifting through legal documents, he began to see a pattern. He learned that “stuff” was just one component of what he was doing.

“What I quickly learned was that the most valuable and critical part of estate planning really doesn’t have much to do with the ‘stuff‘ at all,” Hatcher wrote in his book, Your Future Reflection, How to Leave a Legacy Beyond Money. “I discovered that when the finish line in the race of life begins to come into view, we begin to wonder if we’ll leave behind a legacy that will continue to have a positive impact on the world long after we’re gone.“

So often Hatcher would work with his clients to make sure that “passing the baton” would be easy on the spouse and kids only to find that sixty days later they are arguing over material things. He wanted to help them understand that the legacy left needed to be more than just the “stuff”.

“God builds in us this desire to leave a good legacy,” said Hatcher. “We want to leave things better than we found them but also to put the desire in our family members to do the same.”

Hatcher is talking about a legacy that encompasses far more than money. Legacy is the finishing story line. Everyone leaves a legacy. It’s your choice whether it’s going to be positive or negative.

“Through my research, real-world experience, and revelation I have come to understand that no matter who you are, where you are in life, or what mistakes you’ve made in the past, it’s possible to radically improve your future impact on those you love and the world they will inherit.”

The first thing to understand, according to Hatcher, is that there is a difference between legacy and heritage. Heritage is your family tree. It’s the characteristics and genes from your past. The good news is that family trees are meant to be “pruned” and your heritage doesn’t have to define who you are.

“You don’t have to go back in and prepare the soil, your tree is already there,” said Hatcher. “You just need to make sure it’s as healthy as possible to grow better fruit.”

Hatcher began reflecting on his own legacy and came up with a plan for his family which he now teaches to other families in the area. According to Hatcher there are five steps to handing off a legacy. These steps should be a family project, with involvement from adults and children.

Hatcher calls this the Family Life Plan. He has done this for his family as well as several families all over Texas.

Not only does the family input their information, both Hatcher and his wife, Tamara, asked for input from close friends to make sure they were on track, and that the characteristics they had put into writing were the same ones that their friends saw them consistently portray.

Once it is put into writing for your family, it’s easier to hold everyone accountable to living out their family plan.

“I want my kids to start where I finished,” said Hatcher. “I want them to carry forward on an even healthier path and make a huge difference in our world.”

To learn more, contact Guy Hatcher at guy@apnow.com or go to www.guyhatcher.com.

These steps should be a family project,
with involvement from adults and children:

  1. Accept your family heritage, but feel empowered to prune the family tree.
  2. Clarify and create your family vision and the impact your family will have on the world as well as future generations.
  3. Determine and establish what values your family wants to represent and reflect to the outside world.
  4. Recognize and evaluate
    the key relationships in your intentional circle of influence.
  5. From the information athered, create your family brand.

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