For many of us, the death of Jimmy Buffett brought about memories of the man and performer that have impacted our lives. For me and my family, some of the most closely held memories that we have surrounding Mr. Buffett and his music come from the summer of 2020. Take yourself back to that time for a moment. This was the first summer of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our usual summer events and happenings were not going to occur due to lockdowns and fear of the virus. I can remember our neighborhood swimming pool even had mask requirements and social distancing in place. This was not a great summer by any measure.
However, one of the things that made the summer tolerable was afternoons in our backyard. My wife and I purchased every conceivable blow-up, inflatable, or water activity we could find at the grocery store or Academy and spent the summer playing in the backyard with our kids, family, and any friends who would brave the elements to join us. There was plenty of splashing and laughter, and the songs that comprised the soundtrack for that summer were many a Jimmy Buffett hit. We would play his songs because they were suitable for the events, easy to listen to, and encapsulated what a carefree summer should be. In many ways, Mr. Buffett’s music helped get my family through that first COVID-19 summer.https://www.youtube.com/embed/k0zz6cxsuqY?si=sDxUqADKtCFNuDg1
Even as COVID faded into the background as a concern, my family continued to listen to Jimmy Buffett’s music, especially during the summertime. My kids who are all under seven years old recognize Jimmy Buffett songs because of how often their mom and dad listened to the music over the past few years. It was almost fitting, that Mr. Buffett passed away during Labor Day weekend 2023. As one summer ended in the cooler months of autumn began to settle in it was almost appropriate that Mr. Buffett passed away during this time. Hopefully he, like the rest of us, was able to enjoy a summer full of music and fun.
The reality is that Jimmy Buffett was more than just a singer-songwriter and performer. He was the originator of a lifestyle and lifestyle brand that he was able to capitalize on to better the life of himself, his family, and many charitable endeavors. I don’t want to turn this blog post into a commercial for Jimmy Buffett, but you need only search on the Internet to find the many business ventures that Mister Buffett was able to capitalize on because of his music selling so well throughout the decades. Whether it be his resorts, food, merchandise, and the list goes on and on he was certainly a financially successful Businessman in addition to a successful musician.
While this was not the immediate concern of anyone after Mr. Buffett passed away it is a worthwhile question to ask how his estate was set up to provide for his family and ensure the continued success of his business ventures and philanthropic efforts. His beach bum persona and carefree attitude were seen through his music. However, it is unlikely that he did not take seriously the wealth he had built and the impact he had made on the lives of the people around him and in his community.
In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, I wanted to spend some time walking through how we can be legacy-minded just as Jimmy Buffett was. While it is true that very few of us will ever accumulate even a percentage of the wealth that Jimmy Buffett did, that does not mean that we cannot be a blessing to our families, friends, and community. In today’s blog post, we are going to talk about what it means to build a legacy and how best to move towards that goal.
if you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed estate planning attorneys are here to help answer questions and provide information in a free-of-charge consultation. Once you’ve had your initial questions answered we can also provide you with information about different ways you think about your legacy and how estate planning can figure into your goals both as an individual and as a member of your family.
Be intentional, just like Jimmy Buffett
We have already talked about how Jimmy Buffett’s music was carefree, sun-kissed, and fun. Even if you are not a fan of the type of music, he performed I can almost guarantee you that upon hearing his songs you will be transported to a sunnier and happier place. It was almost impossible to listen to his music and not be in a good mood. It would be easy to lose track of how Jimmy Buffett was anything but carefree, in all likelihood, when it came to his finances and his legacy. On the contrary, Jimmy Buffett was a philanthropist and a man who cared deeply about his community. As a result, he put a lot of thought and care into his business ventures.
His Margaritaville brand was comprised of merchandise, restaurants, grocery store items, resorts, and much more. Jimmy Buffett was a man who parlayed music and the success in that industry into an entrepreneurial empire that stretched across the globe. All of this is good and well but true success in this sort of area means the ability to not only positively impact your immediate family but also feature generations. Jimmy Buffett was also a well-known philanthropist who gave generously to many charitable causes.
One of the takeaways that we all can focus our attention on after Jimmy Buffett’s passing was how he had a plan for how he wanted to structure his life and the proceeds of his financial success. As it stands, planning an estate is a difficult subject for most of us. The main reason for this doesn’t have to do with finances or any of the other subjects that are part and parcel of estate planning. Rather, the most difficult aspects of estate planning have to do with the reality that when you plan your estate you are planning for the end of your life. Most of us want to delay thinking about this subject as much as possible. However, doing so would not be intentional in the right way. Rather, we need to think about our lives and how our lives and property can positively impact others.
When we look at estate planning from either a financial, technical, or emotional perspective it can seem that this is a task that we might not be up to. With all that said, estate planning is important both now and in the future. All this matters more than you may think. Many of us take the attitude of our plans and wishes as not being that important. However, I think much of the time this sort of modesty masks a concern that some of us have deep down that we will be forgotten after we pass away in our legacies will not be as substantial as we may have hoped. Is there anything we can do now to preserve that legacy or even begin to build it?
As Jimmy Buffett would likely tell us, the answer to this question is a resounding yes. When we think about estate planning, we don’t need to think about it in terms of property and finances first and foremost. Rather, we can choose to look at it from the perspective of it allowing us to seriously consider our future and how our estate can benefit those in our lives. While you may not have the wealth of Jimmy Buffett you almost certainly have someone or something in your life that is important to you. The goals you may have concerning that person may be unique to your family, but you can and should be intentional about how you plan your future so that whoever is nearest to you will be able to remember you for the intentionality you displayed regarding your wealth and your estate.
For a moment, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of our loved ones. Specifically, let’s imagine a situation where we have just passed away and as a result, our loved ones are dealing with the consequences of that reality. Once we pass away, we are no longer in a position where we can voice our opinion about how our property will be handled. One of the great benefits of estate planning is that we retain autonomy over our property even after we pass away. By naming an executor in your will or a trustee of a trust you can ensure that your wishes will be honored even after you have passed away. For those of us who do not estate plan then all bets are off as far as what will happen to our property once we pass on from this life.
Where does this leave your family after you pass away? For starters, having to sort out all your affairs related to your estate after you pass away is expensive. Not only would it cost time for your loved ones, but it will also cost money. These are realities that may not set in for you until it is too late. What that means is that you can take advantage of the time you have now to begin to think about how you want to structure your estate to make life easier for your executor or trustee. This will also allow for more property to be left within your estate rather than having to be spent on a lengthy probate case.
How can you think about estate planning as far as an overview is concerned?
As you can see, there are many benefits when it comes to estate planning. However, with so much to think about when it comes to planning your estate and situating yourself well for an end-of-life situation, it may be the case that you become overwhelmed with the options and information available to you. With that in mind, we at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan wanted to provide you with a general overview that is just as applicable to your life as it was to a wealthy person like Jimmy Buffett. The simple truth is that it doesn’t matter what your level of wealth is or what your goals are. Being intentional with your estate is what matters the most.
When we talk about a legacy, it can sometimes get lost in the discussion about how estate planning is the way for you to give real, legal protections to what you envision for your let’s see after you pass away. There are many ways to think about how a goal can be accomplished. This is especially true when it comes to estate planning. There is will creation, trust creation, and combinations of the two. Additionally, you may have people in your life that you want to ensure are cared for after you pass away. Guardianship proceedings, adoptions of children, and even adult adoptions are just a few ways that you can best ensure that family members will be cared for even after you are gone.
When we think about what your estate is comprised of, it can be difficult to always keep in mind all the different sorts of property that may apply to your situation. An estate is not just made up of land or real estate. Rather, your estate is comprised of physical property, real estate, cash, investments, and intellectual property. Considering all these properties as well as the value of each item is important. That way you will be able to better consider how your property should be distributed.
Questions to ask yourself as you begin to plan your estate
Certainly, a man like Jimmy Buffett must have asked himself many questions over time as far as how he wanted to be remembered. For someone who did so much with his life, it may have been difficult for him to think about taking a step back and looking at his life with a period at the end of that sentence. However, Mr. Buffet had his life come to an end just as all of us will have our lives come to an end. This is not a pleasant thought to have to consider but it is the reality that all of us will face. As a result, we can and should begin to think more about our legacies and how estate planning figures into this type of planning.
The simplest question that you can ask yourself is how you want to be remembered. There is a quote that I like to reference in these types of situations. A person will remember you not for what you said to him or her but for how you made him or her feel. Your legacy could involve the way that you left your estate in a situation to make it easy for your family to handle matters and make everyone feel like they were accounted for. This would be a preferable memory to leaving everything up in the air and having your family need to worry more about your finances than your memories.
Determining how you would like your impact to be remembered is another important thing. What has been your main impact on the life of each family member friend or organization that you have met? Accounting for your impact on each of these groups is an important consideration to make currently. When you have a family member to whom you have always been close making sure that that person is accounted for appropriately in your estate plan is a great legacy to leave.
Finally, you can think more about the people in your life who may be harmed by the property you leave to them. Whether this is a family member who is not good with money and would just waste the property you have left, or you may have a family member who has a drug or alcohol problem. That person may use the proceeds from any of the property you have left to harm themselves or to further take part in their addiction. You can use your time remaining to craft an estate plan that accounts for these folks but also allows for these family members to begin to rebuild their trust in your eyes and be able to fully take part in the receiving of your property. Having a plan is central to achieving any of these goals, however.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed guardianship and estate planning attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of estate planning as well as how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a probate case.