Your Legacy – making a difference in the lives that follows…

The joy of living is in the giving…

We all seek a purpose in life and wonder how we can make a positive difference during our brief sojourn here on earth. The answer lies in one word - GIVING. Arthur Ashe once famously said, “From what we get, we can make a living. What we give, however, makes a life.”

When we leave a legacy that makes life better for our loved ones and the needy in our society, it keeps us focus on the “big picture” and helps us experience self-healing, emotional fulfillment and a purpose-driven life. A national study has shown that people in Singapore who donate are more likely to be satisfied and happy with their lives*. Our loved ones would be inspired knowing our values, memories and accomplishments as a result. As for the charities or non-profit organization that receives our legacy gifts, they would be able to devote precious time and resources to pursue their mission rather than spending them on fundraising activities.

*(Source - Subjective Well Being Study 30 Sept 2013 National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre)

What is Legacy planning?

In traditional estate planning we are concerned mainly on achieving financial objectives such as preservation of our assets, creating surplus and estate liquidity as well as ensuring ease of assets distribution.

In legacy planning, however, besides the financial objectives, we incorporate in our planning an added focus of transferring our values, wishes and memories to our loved ones.

Who should we give our wealth to and how much should we leave to our heirs?

In order for our giving to be a virtuous act, we need to give to the right person/organization, at the right time in the right amount with the right type of gift. Besides giving to our loved ones, we could consider giving to charities as such gifts can instill in future generations the value of philanthropy and love.

For a start, we need to know what our personal values are – core beliefs and values that determine the purpose of our lives. Past experiences are a valuable resource to help us identify our values. Were there times when we experience happiness, pride and fulfilment? Why was each experience important and memorable? Reflection on these positive experiences help to identify and articulate our values, be it philanthropic, spiritual, ethical etc.

Next, we would choose the option that respect important personal values and one that results in greatest good but least harm to those affected by our decision.

When and how do we give to our beneficiaries?

In our giving to heirs and charities for their immediate benefit, we are able to experience fulfillment in seeing how our gifts enrich their lives and the beneficiaries respectively. We can also enjoy tax deduction of 250% for qualifying donations to Institute of Public Character (IPC) and other approved institutions from now till 31 December 2021.

For those who are concerned of insufficient income or assets for our own use, deferred giving would make sense. Such gifts are usually deferred for a period of time or after death and are usually made in Wills, Trusts and other estate planning instruments.

One way of giving is to consider setting-up a donor-advised fund with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), an approved IPC in Singapore. CFS is a charitable organization that provides professional donor-centric services and philanthropy-related advice that can help maximize the impact of our giving.

What are the documents, tools or techniques involved in legacy planning?

• Comprehensive Estate Plan – to protect against financial hazards and ascertain amount of legacies to loved ones.

• Letter of Endearment – pass on values and expresses our love, feelings and last words.

• Estate Planning Organizer - detail wishes, locations of documents/assets and info for estate administration.

• Life and health insurance - ensure sufficient coverage and help create an instant estate.

• Life insurance and Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings nominations - distribute death proceeds to our nominees outside of probate process.

• Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) - appoint donee(s) to make decisions regarding our personal welfare and property & affairs should we lack mental capacity in the future. For information on how LPA relates to Advance Care Planning, visit Lotus Eldercare.

• Trust - a legal arrangement where we transfers the legal ownership of our asset to another person/institution to manage for the benefit of our beneficiaries.

• Will - a revocable legal document that express our intention on how our estate be administered and distributed upon our death.

How do we communicate our legacy plan with our heirs?

A Letter of Endearment and/or a family conference would help improve communication and allow us to pass on wisdom, thoughts, feelings and values. We have the obligation to prepare our heirs well of what is to come.

Design your legacy of eternal love…

The essence of legacy planning is not what we leave behind that matters but it is how we can leave a legacy of eternal love. Death in itself leaves a heartache no one can heal but love leaves a memory that no one can steal. As Helen Keller once said, “the best and most beautiful things in life cannot be seen, not touched, but are felt in the heart.”

If we could design the best experience in how people remember us, what would it be like? To know more of how to leave a legacy and make a difference, pls contact us.

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