Transitions With Jean Blog

Stories you leave behind are your legacy

July 5, 2020

Have you ever thought about what matters most in your life? Could your children and grandchildren answer that question about you? Have you shared with them? This is your legacy. It is not about money.

Lori Coonen, from Living My Legacy, talked about family with me. She explained that “planning for the future of our assets is not the same as planning for the future of our family”.

“When you think of legacy planning, you focus on what you want most for your family and for the next generations.”

“First and foremost, you want to make sure the family stays connected and in harmony,” Coonen explained. Then she laughed, adding, “You may think, ‘Our family can’t even agree on what to have for dinner’. That’s alright. When you have the deeper conversations, it can be amazing how much families actually agree.” There is a way to keep the family together and there are steps that can be taken.

Coonen shared a quote that sets the stage for life with family: “You don’t get harmony when everyone is singing the same note.” She explained, “You have to have different opinions and different perspectives in order to create something beautiful. The important part is to accept other peoples’ perspectives and to be respectful of other peoples’ opinions.”

Coonen said, “Allianz Life Insurance asked clients, what is the most important thing you want to pass and to receive. Answer: 86% said they would rather have their family story and life lessons than financial assets.”

“For boomers, it was 10 times more important to pass or receive the family story and life lessons than money or real estate.”

So, what about the next generations? From her experience, Coonen feels the statistics would be the same. They have hired her to do a guided discovery as a gift for parents or grandparents because they want those family stories and life lessons for their generation and future generations. They don’t want it lost when Mom and Dad pass.

“We know that family stories, values, life lessons are what is important, but what do we focus our energy on? Protecting and transferring the financial assets.”

“Families are 5X more likely to fight over the personal possessions than over the distribution of money."

What is the difference between legacy planning and traditional planning? “It’s passing on the values with the valuables.”

“My daughter has my passion for the Packers,” Coonen said proudly. “I got it from my dad. He got it from his dad. My daughter knows that before I could go to my first game at Lambeau, I had to know every Packer players’ name, number and position. I went to my first game at twelve years old.”

Sharing your stories shares your deepest values. Coonen offers guided interviews. It really is taking time to document either verbally or by video or recording of the stories, through the mouths of the parents/grandparents.
Living My Legacy helps you through the process by having a family discussion (virtually if needed) that allows all generations to have input and conversation. In the end, there is an action plan, allowing the generations to work together to focus on what matters most to all of them. There may be little projects to do as teams or together as a whole group.

Find Lori M. Coonen at 920/493-2589

Jean Long Manteufel, senior move manager and CEO of Long’s Senior Transitions in Appleton, writes a column on the first Sunday of each month about life changes associated with aging. She can be reached at 920-734-3260 or

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