- Last Updated on Thursday, 22 March 2012 22:02
There are few better stories to emphasize the importance of legacy planning than the story of Walt Disney shortly before his death in 1966. Mike Vance, former dean of Disney University, tells this story of Walt Disney’s legacy as portrayed by Walt's final hours in 1966 in his book, Think Out of the Box:
“At Disney studios in Burbank, California, Mike could gaze out of his office window across Buena Vista Street to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where Walt Disney died. Mike was talking on the telephone when he saw the flag being lowered over the hospital around 8:20 a.m. His death was preceded by an amazing incident that reportedly took place the night before in Walt’s hospital room.
“A journalist, knowing Walt was seriously ill, persisted in getting an interview with Walt and was frustrated on numerous occasions by the hospital staff. When he finally managed to get into the room, Walt couldn’t sit up in bed or talk above a whisper. Walt instructed the reporter to lie down on the bed, next to him, so he could whisper in the reporter’s ear. For the next 30 minutes, Walt and the journalist lay side by side as Walt referred to an imaginary map of Walt Disney World on the ceiling above the bed.
“Walt pointed out where he planned to place various attractions and buildings. He talked about transportation, hotels, restaurants, and many other parts of his vision for a property that wouldn’t open to the public for another six years.
“We told this reporter’s moving experience, relayed through a nurse, to our organizational development groups, . . . the story of how a man who lay dying in the hospital whispered in the reporter’s ear for 30 minutes, describing his vision for the future and the role he would play in it for generations to come.
“This is the way to live—believing so much in your vision that even when you’re dying, you whisper it into another person’s ear.”
Soon after the completion of The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, someone said, “Isn’t it too bad Walt Disney didn’t live to see this?” Vance replied, “He did see it. That’s why it’s here.”
Even after Walt Disney passed from this life, his vision of the future held strong. He had established firmly in the minds of all those he came in contact with the vision he held of the future. Even today, some forty-two years after he died of cancer, Walt Disney continues to influence millions upon millions of people each year.
And while many of us may not have the lofty aspirations of Walt Disney, we have still accumulated over the course of our lifetimes a collection of wisdom, knowledge, and virtue that we would like others to benefit from.
Walt Disney's last hours weren't spent determining how his estate would be allocated amongst his heirs. They were spent laying out his plans for the future. As he laid there whispering into the reporter's ear, he described in detail how his legacy would live on long after he had passed.
With legacy planning, you are not only able to minimize taxes and maximize the amount of money that you pass on to heirs, but you are also able to influence the spiritual, intellectual, and ethical development of family members.
A good legacy plan comes from knowing, living, and then planning from your values. You are building bridges that will take you and those you love to greater levels of abundance, purpose and significance.
It is important to understand that legacy planning needn't be egotistical; it can be much more than just a selfish desire to control from beyond the grave. Legacy planning can be an altruistic venture for the creator, an ability to provide for, guide, and influence for good the family members they are leaving behind.
Future generations can both benefit and experience from what you have learned. Your passion in creating a truly significant legacy can inspire, motivate, and uplift for generations. You can rest with the knowledge that you have passed on the skills, attitudes, and values necessary to manage those thing that you leave behind. As you plan your legacy, you are providing the means for your family to live happy and productive lives.
When the day comes that you pass from this life, will you be passing on a legacy similar to Walt Disney? Or will you leave your family wishing they had more to remember you by? Consider carefully how you intend to pass along the things that are most important to you.
If you are interesting in developing your own personal legacy plan, schedule time to meet with a specially-trained financial advisor at Brock and Associates, LLC. Don't risk allowing your legacy to be lost when you pass.
Brock and Associates is a fee-based financial consulting firm specializing in retirement, estate, and legacy planning. Brock and Associates will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2009.