Have you ever thought about living forever? While it may not be possible in the medical sense, it is possible in another way. Our community has a number of organizations that specialize in helping people “live on.”

We’re not talking cryonics, where we freeze your body today, lock it away and then unfreeze you 200 years from now when technology advances far enough to do so. We’re talking about “living on” in your community through the legacy you leave. Leaving a legacy is one thing everyone can do. You don’t have to be wealthy, you just have to be willing.

Our legacy is often defined by those we leave behind when we die. Our family and friends eulogize about our life and share with the world how wonderful we were. But when the speeches are done, time passes and our significance may fade.

One way to make a lasting impression (in addition to caring for our family and friends) is through the nonprofit organizations we care about. Anyone can include a bequest to a nonprofit organization in a Will. But, you have to have a Will to make this happen.

Consider all the institutions that matter in your life...school, religious organizations, arts and cultural organizations, and human service organizations. Many people give generously during their lifetimes by making gifts to these organizations. But many do not consider the possibility of including these organizations in their estate planning.

Remembering nonprofits in your will or other estate plan will help ensure the continued existence of the organizations you’ve always supported. It can allow you to preserve and pass on your values and be remembered for what you gave rather than what you had. It can make your community a better, stronger, more vibrant place.

Sound good? Good. You can live on forever by sharing your values and beliefs with future generations through your Will and estate plan. But, if you’re like many, you don’t have a Will or estate plan. Get one. You can’t make an impact on your community after you’re gone if you don’t have one. The biggest impact of your life may happen after you’re gone, but it won’t happen at all if you don’t have a Will and estate plan.

If you don’t know where to start, contact a lawyer. Afraid of the fees? Don’t be. Money spent on a good plan now will save you far more than not having a plan at all.

More information about legacy gifts (including a list of organizations who accept these types of gifts) can be found at www.leavealegacyiowa.org. There is also a guide to planned giving to share information about various ways you can make a gift through your Will and estate plan.

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