Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Sunday, April 22, 2012

How Do You Bequeath Your Legacy?

What Matters The end of one's life usually brings about a reflection of what one's life has meant. This is true for a man named Martin Forrestal. However, Martin isn't a real man. His story is literally just that. The story of Martin Forrestal is detailed in a novel written by financial advisor, Cam Thornton, and the founder of The Heritage Institute, Rod Zeeb.

Their story, entitled What Matters, follows the story of Martin Forrestal as he surprisingly finds himself on his death bed, diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. In the course of the novel, Martin determines that his monetary possessions and his success should not define who he is as a person. He convinces himself that what is important to leave to his wife and children is not his physical possessions but something more. So, Martin creates a list of 15 values that works as a framework for what he would like to leave for his family. Once he creates his list, he tells 15 different life events that he feels embodies these values, records them on a digital storage device, and stores them on his computer. These are some of the values and the stories that accompany them:

  • Leadership displayed by his Scout Masters.
  • Honor from the kindness of citizens who helped a greedy banker from financial ruin when he would have done the opposite for the citizens.
  • Responsibility from the work ethic of his mother.
  • Sacrifice from actions of his best friend, who sacrificed himself in World War II to save his fellow soldiers.
  • And Love from a plaque that was a gift from his mother-in-law to him and his wife.

The story ends with Martin giving this gift to his family, who appears to appreciate the legacy he left behind. 

See Eleanor O'Sullivan, What Matters Most To Loved Ones, Financial Advisor, Mar. 19, 2012.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.


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Interesting read. The cynical side of me, however, pipes up immediately. Leadership, honor, kindness: these are privileges of wealth masquerading as ontological virtues. How important are these to a starving man? Or a man who can't afford cloths? But that's just my darker side.

Posted by: joshua | Apr 22, 2012 7:20:35 AM

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