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Pass the Turkey and Your Legacy

3 minute read

Holidays such as Thanksgiving offer an occasion for families to enjoy a delicious meal together and it also presents an opportunity to connect generations, create traditions, and collect legacy stories. Collecting legacy stories is filling a treasure box for the next generations. Most families have a box of pictures tucked in a cupboard that they intend to sort, but somehow, they continue to stay in the box. Family stories can be the same, but without setting an intention to collect them and protect them.

At First Foundation, we often find ourselves with clients contemplating their life and legacy. After all, legacy planning is a key component of our wealth planning process. Recently while at a family meeting for one of our clients, the head of the household sat in a leather chair in front of a fire and allowed me to ask a series of questions for about an hour with the intention of recording the conversation and leaving his legacy for his great-grandchildren and beyond. The questions started at childhood, “Describe your kitchen table growing up,” moved into young adulthood, “How did you end up on a motorcycle?” and into the parenting years, “What surprised you the most about being a father?” Most children, adult children included, want answers to “why and how” questions. “Why did you move to….?” “How did you choose your career?” “Why did you start a family foundation?” In the end, it is a gift to hear their vision of the future. “If you could come back in 75 years, what would you want to envision when you visit your family?” 

This conversation was the beginning of building a treasure box for this client’s family. The recording is completed, and now one of the grandchildren will use their media skills to add layers to the conversation. The video recording is the first building block, and technical talent will add the texture, add over the recorded voice, and pictures of the first home, the motorcycle, and family vacations. This story does not need to end here, as each family member can be interviewed as chapters are added. 

This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to think about building your personal treasure box. A few simple ideas: 

  • Ask the grandchildren to interview their grandparents. Prepare about three to five questions each. 
  • Look through that box of pictures in your cupboard and place one picture in front of each place setting. Select a picture of each individual, including young children, that is in a setting that they can describe. Ask them to describe where they were and what that moment meant to them. For example, I have a sweet picture of my mom and dad holding me in front of a lake in Minnesota when I was very young. They were new parents, and this picture was of them introducing me to my grandparents for the first time. 
  • Focus on the two eldest at the table and record a conversation that explores their life.  

A wise friend once shared with me, “Every time someone passes away, it is like a library burning down.” Take advantage of this Thanksgiving moment. Enjoy the turkey, eat the extra slice of pie, and use this priceless opportunity to invest in your family’s treasure box. 

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION    

Philanthropy Services provided by First Foundation Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender.

Marty Dutch, Vice President, Philanthropy Services
About the Author
Marty Dutch, Vice President, Philanthropy Services
Ms. Dutch serves as vice president for First Foundation’s consulting group. In this role, she manages our Supporting Our Communities initiative – a program that helps nonprofits strengthen their organizational and fundraising capacities through cash grants and in-kind consulting services. Prior to joining First Foundation, Ms. Dutch served as Regional Director with The Heritage Institute. In this role, she guided ultra-high-net-worth families through the multigenerational planning process – seeking to provide family unity, growth and development across generations. Before following her passion for philanthropy into the consulting field, Ms. Dutch spent more than 25 years in marketing and sales for Johnson & Johnson and various promotion agencies in Southern California. Ms. Dutch is an active member of Orange County’s philanthropic community. She is a founding board member of Orangewood PALS, an auxiliary of Orangewood Children’s Foundation and serves on the Safe Family Board for Olive Crest. Ms. Dutch is also a member of the Monkey Business Café Advisory Board; Endowment Committee for the Anaheim YMCA; AIP Orange County Board Member and serves on the National Board of Advisors in Philanthropy. Ms. Dutch received her Bachelors of Arts degree in Speech Communication from San Diego State University. Read more