As we're forced to spend this time distanced from many we care most about, and reflecting upon how quickly life can change, we're also considering what it means to be prepared – for both the eventual and the unexpected.

With the COVID-19 era has also come the importance of planning ahead, to know that your legacy will pass on in the way you want it to.

But who needs to have a plan? And just how do you do that?

It helps to start with the basics, suggests Langley's Dennis Linton, a volunteer on theLangley Memorial Hospital Foundation'sLegacy Giving Advisory Committee and an investment advisor with Sun Life of Canada.

"Begin by considering what it is that you'd like to have happen and what your primary goals are," Linton says.

Is it important to leave an inheritance to your children or grandchildren? Perhaps you also want to include a bequest for a charity – or charities – important to you?

"The financial plan that's right for one person isn't right for another."

A common misconception is that only those with substantial wealth need to have a financial plan, but in truth, everyone has an estate. Without a plan that at very least includes a Will and a Power of Attorney, you run the risk of your wishes being unrealized, and your estate paying far more in taxes and government fees than it needs to – money that could otherwise go to the individuals or causes closest to your heart.

Charitable giving is appropriate for all

Similarly, some mistakenly believe charitable giving is only for corporations or the wealthy; in fact, it can be part of every person's plan.

"Most of us have some sort of charitable preference and given the opportunity to consider it, we want to include that in our financial plan," Linton says.

Discussions and directives can help ensure your legacy goes to the areas most important to you, often to charities or non-profits that have played an important role in your life.

"For many today, that includes local health care, and often the hospital in their area," Linton reflects, noting that it's also important to revisit your plan regularly. "Life continually changes, both on the personal front and the professional front, so the directives you had 20 years ago will not match what you have today."

"Once people have the time to consider the legacy they'd like to leave, and the avenues they have to make that happen, whether through cash, insurance or other assets, can be powerful, and sometimes unexpected," Linton says.

"It's interesting to see the satisfaction and that good feeling people enjoy afterwards when they know they'll be making a difference," Linton says.

Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation's Legacy Giving Advisory Committee will be hosting a free webinar on legacy planning on Wednesday, May 6 at 2:00 pm. To join in on the free interactive online presentation, RSVP through info@lmhfoundation.com.

To learn more about leaving a legacy, visit lmhfoundation.com.

 (Originally published on Langley Advance Times)

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