Jun 13, 2023

What Matters Most to You: Building Your Legacy Through Beyond Financial Wealth

Building Your Legacy

When most people think about estate planning, their minds jump to money and other assets. After all, estate plans were traditionally a way to transfer wealth to the next generation. In 2023, we know that they can – and should – be so much more.


An estate plan should be about what matters most to you and your family, whether that is charitable giving, art, fashion, education, the environment, or anything else.  Our law office works with individuals and families to help them figure out what is most important to them. We then work with our clients to determine how their financial capital can be used to achieve these goals.


Blacksburg Law offers estate planning services to clients throughout the greater San Francisco region and all of California. Our flat fee arrangements give you the freedom to explore what you want your legacy to be and how your plan will be best carried forward, while our legal acumen will ensure that your estate plan meets your needs. Reach out to our law firm today to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team.

How the Five Capitals Can Be Used to Develop an Estate Plan

Author and attorney Jay Hughes is renowned for his expertise in generational wealth, including the concept that it is critical to look beyond material wealth to other types of well-being. His landmark thesis and research on the Five Capitals is used throughout the world as a guide for managing wealth throughout generations.


The Five Capitals is a different way of looking at your legacy. They include:


  1. Human Capital: this aspect involves individual family members and their skills, talents, knowledge, aspirations, and history that they each have. Human capital also includes each family member’s values, passions, and spirituality. For many families, human capital is the single greatest asset that they have.
  2. Intellectual Capital: this involves how family members learn, communicate, and even resolve conflicts. Intellectual capital usually includes both education and mentoring (which often occurs within the family itself).
  3. Social Capital: this includes the way that a family interacts with the community and the environment. Another way to think of social capital is in terms of civic engagement, and what causes are most important to you as an individual and as a family.
  4. Spiritual Capital: this aspect of a family’s legacy can mean different things to different people. For some, spiritual capital is about religious traditions. For others, it is focused more about what the family values most and what it means to be a member of the family. At its core, spiritual capital is about the “why” behind decisions a family makes.
  5. Financial Capital: put simply, financial capital is the assets that you have accumulated as an individual or family. It may include things such as real estate, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and other investments. Most traditional estate plans focus exclusively on financial capital without putting much thought or consideration into the other capitals.

Even if you aren’t familiar with Jay Hughes’ work, the Five Capitals is a useful starting point to creating a trust-based estate plan. Rather than looking exclusively at your assets and how you will pass them onto the next generation, a trust-based estate plan that examines the Five Capitals will leave a much deeper and more fulfilling legacy.

For most people, passing on material wealth is important – but it isn’t the only thing that matters to them. Taking a deeper look at what is important to you, whether through the Five Capitals or another framework, can help you build an estate plan that leaves a more comprehensive legacy. In our view, financial capital is the platform through which all other capitals can grow and flourish.

Think of it this way: if you’re a parent, you probably have certain values that you want to pass on to your kids. These values informed your everyday parenting decision when your kids were young. They can also be a core part of your estate plan.

If education is a priority to your family, then you can set up a trust-based estate plan that encourages your children and grandchildren to pursue higher education. Alternatively, if your family has always prized spending time outdoors, your estate plan can include an element of conservation, such as encouraging your heirs to visit as many national parks as possible.

Importantly, our trust-based estate plans aren’t a way to control your loved ones from beyond the grave. Rather than impose strict conditions on any transfer of assets (such as: “must complete a doctorate before you receive your inheritance”), you can write a letter to your loved ones that explains your hopes and dreams for them. In this way, you can ensure that your legacy will be carried forward, not because you effectively bribed your heirs into going along with it, but because it is also important to them. 

So how do you figure out what should go into your estate plan? You may already have strong ideas of what matters most to you, such as a desire for your loved ones to travel as much as possible and truly see the world. If you aren’t quite sure about what you want your legacy to be, don’t worry – we can help you get there.

Our estate planning services are offered on a flat fee basis for exactly this reason. We know that this is a deeply personal process that can involve a lot of emotions. Our goal is to help you through each step of it, including having conversations about what matters most to you. As experienced estate planning attorneys, we know the kinds of questions to ask to tease out your hopes and dreams for the future. Whether you’re into the Five Capitals or another framework, we will work with you to develop a trust-based estate plan that meets your needs.

A Different Type of Estate Plan

A good estate plan will address how you want your valued assets, important responsibilities and legacy wishes will be handled by someone else.  The plan will convey that authority to act through certain documents, like a revocable living trust, last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, an advance health care directive (AHCD) and a nomination of guardian. Our estate plans start with the instructions you want folks to follow and include all of these formal legal documents. They also go a step beyond the standard folder of documents to help you create a lasting legacy.

We know that to facilitate and develop this kind of estate plan, we need to get to know you as a person – not just what is in your bank accounts. With our flat fee arrangements, you won’t have to worry about the clock ticking and the billable hours adding up. Instead, you can focus on what matters most to you and to your family as a whole.

One of the key questions that we will ask you is what success looks like for you. That’s a big question – and it can be hard to answer! We’ll talk you through different issues, such as how you want your “gift” to be used by your loved ones or the responsibilities that you have to different generations, to help you come up with an answer. In this way, we can help you figure out what matters most to you. Our legal team will then use that information to build an estate plan that is about more than just passing on wealth.

Our process has an additional goal: inspiring you to have conversations with your loved ones about what you are doing and why you are doing it. This can eliminate hard feelings if your family members don’t find out about your plans until after you pass. It can also ensure that your family truly understands your expectations and that they will have gratitude for what you are trying to do for them.

By helping you determine what you’d like your legacy to be, our law firm will create a comprehensive plan that is more than just a set of documents. We will absolutely address all of the technical legal and financial matters that are a key component of any estate plan. We will also work on practical details, such as how the plan will be carried out when you are gone. At the same time, we will work with you to decide how you can use your financial capital to create a more fulfilling legacy. 

Create a True Legacy with Blacksburg Law

A trust-based estate plan has many advantages over a traditional will-based plan. In addition to certain practical and financial benefits, a plan that centers around a living trust allows you to pass on more than just your financial assets. Our law firm will help you create an estate plan that truly represents you and what matters most to you and your family.


With offices in San Francisco and San Rafael, Blacksburg Law works with clients throughout the Bay Area and California. We are passionate about building estate plans that are more than a folder of documents. Our trust-based estate plans are focused on building a legacy beyond material wealth. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, give us a call at 415-508-5600 or fill out our online contact form.


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