Why Eulogy and Resume Virtues Matter In Estate Planning



Photo of Todd DeKruyter

BY: Todd DeKruyter
Family Wealth Strategist
(317) 412-3834

When I talk to individuals and couples about estate planning and the legacy they want to leave behind, I often ask them: How do you want to be remembered? It’s not an easy question to answer, but it prompts a much deeper discussion about creating a customized plan that reflects their values and desired support for loved ones many years into the future.

In his best-selling book, “The Second Mountain,” New York Times columnist David Brooks introduced a concept that has direct bearing on estate planning – what he describes as resume virtues and eulogy virtues.

Resume virtues are about your achievements. They are, simply put, the things a resume would contain—it’s all about your accomplishments.

Eulogy virtues are also what you’d expect. They’re the things that will be talked about at your funeral: family, the ways you moved people, significance. They’re relational in nature.

Most of us would say eulogy virtues are more important. Family obviously trumps work. Relationships are more valued than bank accounts. But do we really live that way? Does our daily life reflect that?

Best-selling author, coach and speaker John Maxwell says, “Success is when I add value to myself. Significance is when I add value to others.” I agree. I love success, but it pales in comparison to significance.

I want to matter, to feel like I’m making a positive impact in peoples’ lives. I want you to matter in areas of your life that mean the most to you. I want both of us to be significant in the lives of others. Oftentimes, however, frank discussions about money, estate planning and related financial planning issues get forgotten during the hustle and bustle of our everyday life.

For many people, estate planning seems like a game to outwit the IRS. While tax minimization is important, it is not the most critical.

Many individuals and couples also approach estate planning by simply giving away their wealth to their children, with each receiving an equal share. That solution may not be wrong, but it oftentimes does not take into account your values.


Did you factor in your values to your estate or was it all about the money?

Legacy planning is more than money. To leave a significant legacy, you must consider wealth in all of its robust components: financial, intellectual, relational, character and spiritual capital (more about this in part two of the series).

In his book “Giving It All Away…and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously,” David Green, the self-made billionaire and founder of the craft store chain Hobby Lobby, wrote, “A legacy of true value is a legacy made of more than money. It’s a legacy conceived in wisdom, nurtured by principle, and sustained by character.” It’s passing our values with our valuables. True wealth transfer is about more than, not less than our money.


Action Steps:

1| Set aside time to reflect on your plan.

2| Re-read your estate plan. Do you understand it? Does it reflect your values and unique heirs? What gaps do you see? Take necessary steps to close the gaps.

3| Read the next article in this 4-part series here.


Next Step:
If you could benefit from estate planning and need advice on taking care of your loved ones, please contact me or any one of our professionals at (800) 375-4646. We are ready to help.


Argent Financial Group

Argent Financial Group (Argent) is a leading, independent, fiduciary wealth management firm. Responsible for more than $30 billion in client assets, Argent provides individuals, families, businesses and institutions with a broad range of wealth management services, including trust and estate administration, investment management, ESOPs, retirement plan consulting, funeral and cemetery trusts, charitable organization administration, oil and gas (mineral) management and other unique financial services. Headquartered in Ruston, Louisiana, Argent was formed in 1990 and traces its roots back to 1930.

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