How to Get Started on Preserving Your Life Stories
The things we leave behind aren’t the only things that matter when we pass away. What is just as, if not more, important is the legacy we leave behind.
Think of it this way, what will happen to your life stories when you pass away? Will your family have questions that can’t be answered once you are gone? Will you be able to impart your knowledge and lessons before leaving this world?
Here is why your life stories are the most valuable part of your estate plan, plus, how to start documenting and preserving your stories:
Your Stories Matter
We live our lives, often thinking that our lives are inconsequential. However, your stories have value and meaning. Passing them on can mean a great deal to your family too.
If you don’t think your life stories are important, here are some questions to ponder:
Did your ancestors record their stories? If not, do you wish they had?
What would it mean to you and your children to be able to read their stories in their own words?
What lessons and inspiration could you learn from their life experiences?
Once you are gone, preserving your stories in writing is the only way your stories can live on in your own voice. That is why it is so important to document your life stories, valuable lessons, and knowledge for future generations in your family.
Why You Should Record Your Story
Other than preservation and imparting knowledge, why else should you document your life stories? There are several reasons.
The first is that it provides a view of your family’s history. Many people are using online services to research their family history, but think of how rich that history could be with first-hand stories!
Every person’s life is a sacred journey. It encompasses growth, discovery, and transformation. By passing along your unique stories, you are adding to shared family history.
Second, our life stories provide knowledge, information, and inspiration to future generations. Your life matters and what you learn along the way matters! Documenting your stories allows you to share your failures and successes, along with knowledge on how to find the strength to confront difficult challenges. It also allows you to pass on your key values. By imparting your knowledge through documenting your life stories, you’ll help inform and inspire family members for generations to come.
Finally, your stories help keep the connection to the source of your family’s financial wealth. In other words, your stories provide true meaning to the assets you are passing on to your loved ones, especially when you document how you gained your wealth or acquired a sentimental item.
Recording your life stories is an essential part of legacy planning, and can be far more significant and enduring than financial wealth.
What it Means for You
While focusing on what preserving your stories mean for those you leave behind is important, it has key benefits for you too.
Recording your stories gives you an opportunity to reflect on your own life. You have the opportunity to look back on the things that had the most profound impact on you, helping give you perspective. Documenting your stories can help you focus on what truly matters and what is most important for your future.
What it Means for Others
We touched a bit already on the meaning your stories can have for others, such as how your stories provide meaning to your assets your family will inherit. But more importantly, sharing your stories, especially those that involve your family members, can help your family learn and understand things about themselves and others.
Further, intentionally recording your story can ensure that your message and values live on after you are gone. When your family has a better understanding of your values, it can help to minimize or reduce disputes among family over your assets once you are gone.
How to Start Writing
Staring at a blank piece of paper or computer screen when sitting down to write our stories can be very intimidating for most. But remember, writing is a process!
One way to begin that process is to create an outline of what is most important to you and your most memorable life lessons and stories. Think about writing a letter to someone to say thank you, apologize, or share important information. This gives you a great place to begin writing.
You might also consider writing your stories as if you were speaking to a yet-to-be-born grandchild or great-grandchild. Describe where you came from, how you got to where you are, and how you overcame some of your biggest life challenges. Talk about your choices, your greatest joys, biggest regrets and share advice on whatever you think is important.
Help with Guided Discovery
Having a little help along the way can ensure that you are documenting the most important things about your life that you wish to impart to future generations.
OneDigitalTrust’s platform offers a simple way to document your life stories, plus resources built in to help you know what to write. Here, you have the capability to use and write about why you’ve written your will the way that you did. You can also add expressions of gratitude or regrets and even the emotions you are experiencing at the end of your life. Our platform also allows you to update your life stories periodically to keep everything up to date so you don’t miss a single important thing!
Be sure to head to “stories” within the platform for some good content on how to write about your story (we make it easy to do this right in the platform!). Pro Tip: Documenting your life stories is not meant to be overwhelming for you or your family. Keep your stories bite-sized. Each one should be about a key experience in your life.
Remember, there are no rules when it comes to writing down your life story. Your story is as unique as the individual that you are, so don’t worry about any set guidelines. This is your story! The only way to fail is to not write your life story down at all.