I once worked with an elderly donor who had a great idea for her legacy. She was in the process of ‘baking’ her legacy when I met her.

She had toured through some of Canada’s national parks and wished her grandchildren could see some of the beauty where she had been. She struggled for the right words to describe the joy she found in each park. When I met her, she was in the middle of writing each grandchild a personal note that was to be read at the reading of the will.  She struggled for the right words to describe her experiences, but she hoped to motivate them to follow in her footsteps.

She was planning to change her will to make her dream for her grandchildren come true. She wanted to add a clause that gave each grandchild money to visit national parks but not for anything else. She believed they were all capable of feeding clothing and housing themselves. But she was conflicted – was that a good legacy to leave?

In one of my last visits with her it became clear, as she described voices and noises in her two-room apartment that only she could hear, that she had lost the capacity to make changes to her will. It was not just an off day, she was gone within a month. It was sad to know that her dreams went unfulfilled.

Leaving a legacy can change lives and lead to new experiences. Do it while you can. Encourage others around you to do the same.

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