The story of your life, your family, how you got here, and what’s important to you may be the most important piece of any legacy you could possibly leave behind. According to a recent survey from the Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, 86% of baby boomers said that keeping their family stories and personal histories alive after they are gone is the single most important piece of their legacy plans.
Boomers and Older Adults Agree on Story Importance
The survey asked seniors a range of questions about their family histories, their lives, and what they thought about their legacies. Like baby boomers, Americans age 72 and older also said that keeping family history stories alive is very important to them.
Back in 2005, a similar survey conducted by the same company found very similar attitudes in both baby boomers and older Americans. 64% of boomers said that a key part of the inheritance they leave behind will include personal mementos, family heirlooms, and other valuable items that have emotional and personal importance, even though those items may not have a high dollar value. Also, 9% of baby boomers reported that it’s important for them to leave or receive a large inheritance, while 14% of those age 72 and older said the same.
Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know where to begin when it comes to creating personal histories or leaving behind a tangible family story that other family members can enjoy. Most people rely on orally told stories that they pass from generation to generation. These stories tend to get lost, and usually don’t survive a generation or two.
Some people have begun turning to the Internet to create family trees or perform historical research. Others take simpler steps. For example, people can easily review old photo albums and make simple notes about where the photos took place and who was in them. Simply reviewing these albums will often prompt people to remember stories that are important to them, most of which would be lost if they didn’t take the time to write them down.
Apart from passing verbally told stories down from generation to generation, writing stories and family histories in a permanent form can be very rewarding for many people. Modern computers can easily allow you to assemble photographs, videos, and documents into a single file or folder. If you’re more ambitious you can use desktop publishing software to create a permanent record of the stories that are important to you. You can even have these records printed, stored online on a website, or distributed to your family in a digital or hard-copy form.