November is Family Stories Month, prompting us to consider how knowing and collecting the stories of our families enriches the legacies we leave behind. Our clients often come to us with the intention of preserving their assets on behalf of their loved ones. We all know how important securing a financial future can be; but we also know that family-owned, passed-down objects and memorabilia can be as valuable as an entire estate.
Ahead of gathering this holiday season, think about how you can take some time to document your family’s stories. Think of the individuals who lived generations ago and what their stories might be. Researching the people who came before you, while collecting your own stories, can be a powerful way to connect your past to your present. Preserving your family’s history can be one of the best ways to leave a lasting legacy.
Three Reasons to Explore and Add to Your Family History
- Telling your story can be a productive way to grieve.
The end-of-life stage can bring difficult emotions that people sometimes channel into ensuring they will be remembered after they are gone. This is true for both the people passing and the people who love them. Writing down cherished stories can be very therapeutic.
- Learning about your history can make you feel connected to the past.
Depending on who we are and where we come from, access to information about our ancestors varies. It is important not to assume that no information can be found about your family. Even if identifying your specific ancestors may not be possible, stories of people like them may exist. If you don’t have a family tree yet, start one for the family members who come after you.
- History needs your story to be added to the record.
The historical record is full of stories of the rich, royal, and famous; therefore stories from cultures and classes that have not been documented as thoroughly are valuable additions to different historical records. Creating or adding to your family history can be tremendously impactful for someone in the future.
Two Ways to Collect & Preserve Your Family History
- Write It
If you want to make sure your loved ones know you, make sure they know your stories. It can be as simple as starting with a notebook and pencil. Here are some questions to get you started: What do you remember about your childhood? Who were the people who took care of you? What were some of your big moments in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood? Which were your favorite artists to read, hear, and watch? What wisdom do you have to share?
- Record It
If physically writing stories isn’t possible, audio or video recording can be a great alternative. People who need help with their written story can begin by recording the author and transcribing their words. Audio recordings have the added benefit of offering the details of someone’s voice, accent, and style of speech. Video recordings are richer still, capturing physical features and mannerisms. Because most people have cell phones, digital recordings can be really easy. Just simple recordings of different family members telling their favorite stories about one another could become wonderful artifacts to start or add to your family’s collection.
Not ready to share your story with your family members yet? Contact us about how you can make a recording, letter or diary part of the legacy and legal documents you leave behind after you die.