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How do you leave a lasting legacy and set your family up for future success? In this episode of “Your Money. Your Mission.”, Kelly speaks with Joe Maier, an attorney and Director of Wealth Strategy at Johnson Financial Group, to help guide you through the importance of legacy planning. They explore the pivotal difference between estate planning and legacy planning. Listeners will learn the pitfalls to avoid, including how to communicate with family members, the importance of the right estate planning documents‌ and separating asset ownership from decision-making. This episode provides the guidance you need for securing your family's financial future while leaving a meaningful legacy.

The Essence of Legacy Planning

Legacy planning is about more than just the distribution of assets. It's about preserving who you are, your values‌ and your impact on future generations. Joe's story about his grandparents illustrates this: Their legacy wasn't just the money they left behind‌ — it was the tiki bar and the shared moments of joy, family, and the community that it fostered. The heartwarming tradition of saying "skål" (cheers) in memory of his grandfather is a testament to the enduring legacy they created.

Choosing the Right Team

To embark on a successful legacy planning journey, it's crucial to have the right team in place. Your team should include not only financial advisors and attorneys but also individuals who understand the unique dynamics of your family and business, if applicable. The team's role is to uncover and capture your story — your values, goals‌ and what you want for the people impacted by your assets. It's a collaborative effort that aims to ensure your wishes are fully understood and executed.

Pitfalls to Avoid

Legacy planning can be a deeply emotional and challenging process, but avoiding common pitfalls is essential to achieving a successful outcome. Three pitfalls to be aware of include:

  1. Lack of Communication: failing to communicate with those who will be impacted by your assets can lead to confusion, disputes‌ and unfulfilled intentions. Open and upfront conversations are essential to ensure your legacy's purpose is understood and cherished.
  2. Neglecting Basic Estate Planning: surprisingly, many individuals don't even have basic estate planning documents in place. This can lead to several complications, including protracted legal battles and financial mismanagement.
  3. Blurring Ownership and Decision-Making: for family businesses, separating ownership from decision-making is vital. Assigning responsibilities and authority to family members who are unprepared or uninterested can lead to business decline and wealth destruction.


Legacy planning goes beyond the legalities of estate planning— it's about shaping a lasting impact on the lives of your loved ones, the community and the causes that are important to you. By focusing on people and working with a team of advisors who understand your story, values‌ and goals, you can create a legacy that lasts generations. Avoiding common pitfalls such as communication breakdowns and neglecting basic planning is vital to ensure a successful and amicable transition of assets. Ultimately, legacy planning is a profound gift you can leave behind — a testament to the values and love you held throughout your life.

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Tom Deisinger
Tom Deisinger, SVP Private Client Services, Milwaukee, WI

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