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As You Reflect on 2021, What About a Legacy Letter?

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Monday, December 27, 2021   

The holiday season often includes messages of reflection. Minnesotans who want loved ones to know more about their values and life lessons, are encouraged to put their thoughts on paper or in a video.

"Legacy letters" are not considered a will or legal document, but often provide greater focus on a person's vision for giving back to society.

Jeremy Wells, senior vice president of philanthropic services for the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, said it is also a chance to pass along wisdom to younger generations of the family.

"What were my values? What were the most important things? What lessons do I hope others from my life, my experiences?" Wells outlined.

The Foundation includes legacy letter suggestions in its toolkits for donors, but Wells pointed out they can be prepared by anyone. While the idea might be more appealing to older Minnesotans making end-of-life preparations, these letters can also be shared before a person's death. They can prompt important discussions that can bring families closer.

Wells added it is not just the approaching New Year which might inspire some people to be more reflective. While the pandemic crisis has produced challenges for many, he said it also offers a chance to reassess priorities.

"What are some of those core values that, you know -- through thick and thin, through better and worse -- have really held up?" Wells asked.

Other experts in crafting the letters noted you do not have to be a great writer to get your wishes on paper or script out a video. Conveying your honest feelings in your own words will resonate more with the recipients. They added it might be better to wait until the recipients are old enough to recognize a legacy letter's value before sharing it with them.

Disclosure: The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Education, Health Issues, Human Rights/Racial Justice, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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