April 2011 "Precious Memories"
PLANNING FOR WEALTH & SECURITY
By Jennifer & Jeff Hawkins, Trust & Estate Specialty Board Certified Indiana Trust & Estate Lawyers
That old Stamps-Baxter tune about childhood memories resonated with enough people that countless gospel and country music singers have recorded it over the years. Have you ever wondered what memories your ancestors considered precious? Many of us lack old memories that our ancestors failed to share. What will happen to your precious memories?
We have enjoyed hearing stories of family heritage from aging clients and their children over the past couple of decades. Inherited material wealth is often very modest, but heritage is priceless. Family members sometimes find hidden treasure in old letters, annotated photographs, diaries, and video and audio recordings. In each case, detailed information and expressions of the departed person’s thoughts and feelings increase sentimental value. One of the most touching records was an audio recording of a man’s statements of faith and prayers for his family.
A person may think about leaving a diary or other memento behind, but become intimidated or discouraged by the task. “What do I have to say that is worthwhile?” “I’ll start that next week.” “Who cares about my story?” These thoughts kill many heritages needlessly. Regardless of who you are and what you have done, someone is interested in it and will suffer the loss of its value if the story remains unrecorded.
How should a person record memories? An easy method is to grab a notebook and start writing. If you have a tape recorder or video camera, those methods are great too, but you should experiment with them to make sure the recording system records your voice clearly. Old photographs are much more interesting if notes appear on their backs identifying their subjects and the captured scene. Don’t try to tackle the whole project in one day – just get started.
Record storage can make a big difference in preserving heritage. You can keep records at home, in a bank lockbox, or in some other place. Regardless of the location, make sure that someone knows that the records exist and how to find them. Computer record storage makes it possible to store photos, videos, audio recordings, and writings in multiple locations without worrying about destruction by fire, flood, theft, or fading.
Each of us has a story to tell. A Japanese fisherman who outran the recent tsunami responded to a reporter’s question about losing his boat by saying that there were more important things to think about than wealth – he and his family are alive. Few of us may have such dramatic stories, but our memories may still be precious if we preserve and share them with others.
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