I was recently asked, “How does your view of passing on an inheritance factor in your minimizing?”
I responded with a quote from Peter Strople I’ve never forgotten:
Legacy is not leaving something for people. It’s leaving something in people.
The inheritance we pass on to our children is more than the material possessions or the financial assets outlined in our will. It also includes the legacy we leave and the example we set. In this way, inheritance is more than what we usually think about.
This is an important perspective—and the ramifications are significant.
Interestingly, the very definition of inheritance includes this reality:
: something, as a quality, characteristic, or other immaterial possession, received from progenitors or predecessors as if by succession.
The inheritance we leave for our children extends beyond the material things in our attic or the zeroes in our bank account. Our inheritance also includes the example we live, the moral compass we set, the character we develop, and the name we build for ourselves and our family.
This is important to remember, first of all, for those with little financial wealth. Regardless of the dollar amount contained in your will, you can still pass on to your children (and their children) a valuable inheritance by living a life of character and decency focused on the things that matter most. This inheritance, by the way, is more valuable in the long run than a dollar figure anyway.
This truth about immaterial inheritance is also relevant and challenging to those with financial means. When wealth is added to the equation, it becomes very tempting to define and focus only on the material possessions that we desire to pass on: the house, the land, the bank accounts, the businesses.
But relatively speaking, these assets are less important than the character traits and the life model we will inevitably pass on to our children. For our kids’ sake, it is shortsighted to spend our lives focused too much on financial wealth, rather than character development.
Regardless of your net worth, if you have family, you will pass on an inheritance. Let’s remember the gifts we can leave to our children extend far beyond material possessions. And work diligently to focus on the most important.