David York is a lawyer who knows a lot about leaving a legacy. The estate planning expert helps people plan out how and what they’re going to pass on to family, friends – and the world – after they die; he challenges you to think about that as well. If the first thing that comes to mind is money, you might want to rethink that, he says in a talk at TEDxSaltLakeCity. When we think of inheritance, we think currency, and the bigger the amount, the better. “Our fundamental assumptions [about wealth and inheritance] are fundamentally wrong,” York says. “Human capital” is what we need to pass on.
In this case, “human capital” is the wealth of life experience that includes”Our skills and abilities, our knowledge, our collective narrative wisdom.” This is the bread and butter of meaningful wealth transfer.
How to do that? He has some advice:
“Before you make a list of you assets, make a list of your core values,” York says. “What drives you? What motivates you?
… Before you write your estate plan, write your life story. Detail your successes. Capture your failures. Share all those things you wish you had known [when you were younger] and pass those on like you would your most treasured tangible possessions.”
York warns of the danger of “[focusing] primarily on the transfer of financial capital, but with very little human capital,” a situation he believes leads to inheritances that often breed difficult family conversations, animosity, and a sense of confusion and aimlessness for heirs — checks handed over without meaning or direction. He quotes one recipient of a large financial inheritance: “Inherited wealth was a real handicap to happiness.”
So, as you plan out your estate, think of wealth that might foster happiness.
For more, watch York’s whole talk below: