What is a Legacy?

In 2012, Malcolm Gladwell, the author of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference and Outliers made a bold prediction about Bill Gates Vs Steve Jobs

“I firmly believe that 50 years from now he’ll (Bill Gates) be remembered for his charitable work. No one will even remember what Microsoft is, and all the great entrepreneurs of this era, people will have forgotten Steve Jobs. There will be statues of Gates across the third world and … there’s a reasonable shot … because of his money, we will cure malaria.”

Apple and its products are so entrenched in our lifestyle now that almost everyone knows about Steve Jobs. So, his legacy seems intact, for now. He is remembered. And isn’t that a legacy? Researchers Scott Allison and Dafna Eylon led a series of studies to find out what constitutes legacy. They found that we care as much about leader’s generosity as their accomplishments. To be remembered you have to see what you leave behind.

Beloved writer Sir Terry Pratchett said,

“No one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away, until the clock wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone’s life is only the core of their actual existence.”

That brings us to a very important question

What is Legacy?

Most of us confuse inheritance with legacy. Inheritance is anything received from the estate of a person who has died, whether by the laws of descent or as a beneficiary of a will or trust. It’s bound only in possessions whereas legacy is much bigger.

Everyone knows of the legacy of Tata’s. It’s a business group yes, but its legacy is not limited to the businesses and cities they created but by the values that they are identified with and the charities they run.

Legacy contains your values and life lessons, the way you conducted your life so that it continues to affect people after you. It’s your personal possessions of emotional value and even instructions and wishes to be fulfilled. Thus, it is what you leave behind and how you are remembered. It’s your immortality after the final curtain and it’s more than the money and assets you built. That can be the building block, but there is more to a legacy than mere possessions.

A legacy is how you and your thoughts continue to affect the world that you’ve left behind.

Legacy in an Estate Plan

In terms of an estate plan, a legacy can be decoded as specific long-term plans for your beneficiaries beyond the distribution of financial assets. While creating an estate plan you will find ways to leave your legacy by working through questions like:


How do you ensure that your beneficiaries understand and carry on the values that you espoused?

Because you know that your values are the cornerstone of your success and your beneficiaries can benefit from the lessons you have learned and the mistakes you have made.

How do you make your beneficiaries aware of the tremendous responsibilities, opportunities and challenges which inherited wealth presents?

With a well-developed estate plan, you can create a blueprint to ensure that your values pass on so that the coming generations learn and expand on your values. And with expert help…you can start on it today!

When you plan your legacy, you can ensure that your beneficiaries understand that they have a responsibility to protect your legacy.

It needs to be planned because the risk of not planning is much greater.

We have all heard of how once prominent businesses lost the public admiration and their assets because the inheritors did not abide by the values that created those very assets.

What is a Legacy

How to Start with Legacy Planning

The first step always starts with information gathering. You need to think through the legacy you plan to leave behind- your values, assets, business, personal memorabilia- in short everything that personifies you and is for your beneficiaries.

Then you need to sort out what you want to leave to whom, what are the values you want to leave behind and how, if there is any charity you prefer and how do you plan for every eventuality, even debilitating disease.

It’s okay if you don’t have certain answers, there are legacy experts who can help you plan each aspect of your legacy- from the material to the philosophical one. Experts are required because everyone has a unique financial situation. Further, you’re subject to distinct laws and tax rules depending on where you live, whether you’re married or have children and how much wealth you have. Plus, Non-Resident Indians face different laws as compared to residents and in case of global families- a growing trend in today’s times- the planning requires an experienced hand because the implications and distances can create more hassles.

At Eterna our team of dedicated and experienced professionals develop customized solutions to organize, preserve and protect your legacy across generations. With more than x years of combined professional experience we can help you find the best way to leave a legacy that sends its ripples through time.