What Will Be Your Legacy?

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The concept of leaving a legacy has evolved over the years to give the impression that it only applies to people with great wealth or influence. I don’t believe that’s the case at all. Artists create their legacy with every inspiration, but let’s be honest: Art is easier to create when there is some cash to fund it. As a financial type, I can’t speak to the impact of your art, but I do want to talk about the impact of your financial choices when you are gone, generally called estate planning.

Estate planning is the process of creating instructions and specifications for how your stuff gets to the people and places you want it to when you die. Legacy adds context—why you want it to go there. For example, you could leave money to your nephew to use as he wants or you can leave it to him with the restriction of only using it in support of his music since he seems to be a prodigy. We all contribute to the world, the people we love, and the causes we support. While we are alive we can contribute in many ways; time, knowledge, money and so on. But what happens when we aren’t around anymore? How do we make the impact last and even multiply?

I know insurance tends to be a dirty word but let’s talk about it anyway. It allows you to pay a little bit now in order for someone or something to get a lot later. Life insurance is important for building a legacy since when you’re dead you can’t contribute your time or knowledge—just money, if you have planned for it.

There are two main types of life insurance: Temporary (lasts for a specific amount of time, usually 20 years) and Permanent (stays in place until you die or you turn 121—whichever comes first). And there are both selfish and a selfless reasons to get each of them. Let’s break it down.

Selfish Reasons

  • Temporary: There is no selfish reason to own term insurance. It’s very simple, you pay a premium every year so you know that if you die someone gets a large sum of money. If you outlive that term, you don’t get any money back and you were essentially paying for peace of mind.
  • Permanent: There a few ways you can use this to benefit you, and most allow for you to take care of others as well. This type of life insurance generally comes with an ever-growing bucket of cash inside of it that you can access while you’re alive, allowing you to can get money tax-free from your policy to help start a business, become a real estate mogul, or supplement your retirement income. You can, in some cases, spend your entire death benefit while you are alive.

Selfless Reasons

  • This is the same for both types of insurance: You pay for something that will take care of others if you die. I believe that the real purpose of the death benefit for individuals is to buy the time it takes for family and friends to process your loss without feeling outside pressures. If you chose to leave money to a theater or charity, you give that an organization the opportunity to create the art and impact you want to see in the world.

So what is a legacy? It’s the mark you leave on the world. And, at every moment, each of us has a legacy to be left. What is yours?

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Bailie Slevin
Bailie Slevin is the founder of Entertaining Finance, a business management and financial consulting firm geared specifically towards creatives.