You’re focusing on your will, trusts, health care directive and all of the other crucial documents you need to put in place as you develop your estate plan. But what about your family heritage?
When you pass away, you may be taking some valuable information with you. Your grandchildren may look through the scrapbooks or the old photos and slides you’ve digitized and wondered who some of the people in them are. Where do they fit into the family? How did they settle in California – or in the U.S.?
Your family tree
There’s a reason that Ancestry.com and shows like Finding Your Roots are so popular. Most people want to know where they came from, how their family played a role in our country’s (or another country’s) history and just who their ancestors were.
Even if your family has shown no particular interest in researching their genealogy, that can be part of the legacy you leave to them. You may be able to get a lot of information on your own at little expense through websites like Ancestry.com. You can fill out your family tree going back generations and leave that behind for others to see and add to.
Your DNA information
You can also do DNA or several other tests. Some are more focused on ancestry. Others, like 23andme.com, provide valuable health history information for those in your life now and generations not yet born.
It’s essential to make sure that you designate a beneficiary for your DNA sample. The company you use may have a formal beneficiary program. If it doesn’t, your attorney can help you include the designation in your estate plan. It’s also wise to leave behind your access information to any ancestry sites where you’ve stored information.
This might not seem like the most important thing to focus on – and it’s probably not. However, when your loved ones start looking through those old pictures or inherit that jewelry that you’ve passed down for generations or if they’re at risk for a particular medical condition because of their ancestry, this could be one of the most valuable inheritances they receive from you.