Create a Legacy That Honors your Loved Ones: Part Three of Three

Creating a Legacy That Honors Your Loved Ones


 Part Three of Three


Welcome to the last of a three-part series: Creating a Legacy That Honors Your Loved Ones.

This time of year is typically a time for family, food, fun, memories, giving

thanks, laughter and more. In part one, I shared the point in life when I realized

I could affect our future generations and what information they would have about

those who came before us. In fact, it wasn’t until becoming a caregiver for both of

my parents that I realized if I wanted my kids to know more about our family history,

we needed to proactively seek the information. I shared five things I learned through

this process.

The things I learned about my parents brought me peace and helped me see their world

through their eyes. This was a priceless gift for us all. In part two, I shared what I learned

and the profound affect it had on my healing. In putting puzzle pieces together about

their lives, I saw them as the individual man and woman they were beyond their roles of

‘mom and dad’.  I also shared legacy categories and questions you can put into practice today.

In this last series, we explore how I used our legacy practice to reignite a family tradition of

my own and, because part of our legacy is the practical side of things, we touch on the medical,

life and financial aspects of our legacies. Enjoy!


Reigniting Family Tradition


I found so much value in this process, I resumed my

own family tradition of writing my kids annual letters about the year,

key milestones we experienced, and the things I was most proud of that

year. I included a few key things they wrote, made, or did that year, sealed

up the envelopes, labeled them for the year, and put instructions

for the kids to open their envelopes when I decided to give it to them.

Somewhere along the line life became too busy and I didn’t make time

for this anymore or perhaps wrongly thought the kids were too old.

Given everything I’ve learned about my parents and reflecting as a

parent myself, I feel one of the greatest gifts we can give our children

other than values, core beliefs and life skills to become responsible

adults one day is our heartfelt feelings of love and pride. With tearful

eyes and a smile from ear to ear, I love recalling favorite childhood

memories and our hopes and dreams for them. I can’t imagine how

long I would probably still be crying had I had something like this

from my parents. Especially now, as a parent myself, knowing and

feeling the immense, unconditional love from my parents and for my

children, this will make a profound impact on my peace of mind and

strengthen our relationships even more.

Legal, Financial and Medical Affairs


An equally important aspect of one’s legacy is ensuring all legal,

medical, and financial affairs are in order. Based on an unrelated

surgery in 2005, my dad spent quality time putting everything together

we needed. My dad documented his life, including website user names

and passwords, what associations he belonged to and their contact

information, what life insurance policies he had where for him and my

mom and their account numbers and company contact information. He

documented his brokerage, bank and credit card accounts, and account

numbers, information about their homes.

Additionally, he documented his life chronology, including timelines for

all his addresses from birth to present; including his employer history,

pension information, years worked, and salary history. He even

documented all the places he was stationed while in the military.

My dad was prepared for anything and now I was prepared; at least to

an extent. At the time, I thought I was completely ready. Yep, got

the envelope with everything in it and I’m ready. The reality is while

this is wildly important, when it comes to care giving, it’s just the

beginning. More on that in another post.

Having a complete life history was one of the best things he ever did aside

from having my sister and me. Having these documents was like winning the

lottery when I needed to open the envelope. It probably felt like winning the

lottery because everything was together in one, tight, neat package. This proved

invaluable for many reasons, including working with his memory

recall. During hospital stays, I shared this information with his

occupational and speech therapists, which helped determine his brain

and memory patterns, decipher fact from fiction, and aid in figuring

out how he was putting his ‘brain puzzle’ together.

On the topic of estate planning, if you don’t already have a

Durable or Medical Power of Attorney (POA), you need to run

somewhere and get this done today. Had my mother been dead at the

time of my dad’s accident, I would have had a much, much harder

time with things. Also, in my experience, you can grant someone a

blanket POA to take affect whenever they deem appropriate or you can

make the POA effective in the event you become incapacitated.

In which case, mortgage companies, banks, employers and the like will

require documented proof of incapacity, along with the POA document

to be valid. It can take time to get this proof and be able to do what

you need to do.

I also learned some banks use their own guidelines

about what documentation they will accept. With a properly executed

durable POA that was good enough for all things big and small, one

bank in particular required very specific wording and said it wasn’t

good enough. Wow. The US Government, mortgage companies and

most banks accepted this documentation, yet one bank wouldn’t.

Coming from higher education where colleges and universities

have their own policies about credit transferability, admissions, and

the like, I understood it. I just didn’t agree in this case!

These are just some of the challenges POAs deal with. I strongly

suggest you do your research and seek legal counsel when creating or

updating a POA and other medical/estate documents.

Details  Details   Details



I implore you to document your life history and get estate planning

in order. Do it today. Married, single, kids, no kids, homes, no homes, it

doesn’t matter. You have a responsibility document your wishes, decide

ahead of time who you want to act on your behalf either as a medical

power of attorney or general power of attorney.

Do you want doctors to save your life at all costs, even if it means living in a

persistent, vegetative state? Do you want your closest relative/next of kin

to make decisions for you? In what circumstances do you want others to make

decisions for you? Do you trust they will act in your best interests? Be

sure the person you designate knows and agrees to this responsibility.

Have a back up designee. If you designate your spouse and you are both

In a car accident, someone else needs to pick up the ball and take care

of things for you.  Ensure everyone knows where the paperwork is.

Sometimes, it’s all in the details!

In this article, I weaved things I did well and things I discovered along the

way.  I recommend everyone document their history and share stories

while tending to important legal matters less commonly discussed.

I recommend doing these things NOW before you are faced with family

members or yourself needing to act quickly. I preface information contained

here with a disclaimer that you should consult an attorney, CPA, or other

professional for advice on how to proceed with your particular situation.

“Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children
and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are
only wilted leaves on the tree of live.”
~ Albert Einstein

We have no promise of tomorrow. If you suddenly died, would

your family know how you felt, what you were most proud of, who

influenced you the most and why, or what your favorite traditions were

growing up? Is it clear who has legal authority to act on your behalf?

There are so many aspects to creating a legacy. Practical matters such

as ensuring loved ones are protected and care received is according to

expressed wishes are important. Equally important is ensuring stories

are shared so they can live on for generations to come. This is time

that must be invested. Start today. There is no time like the present!


If you missed part one of this series, you can read it here.


If you missed part two of this series,  you can read it here.


Live your life.  Share your stories. Inspire future generations.





Creating a Legacy is such an important topic that I dedicated an entire chapter on the subject. Go to for information about my  new book, Healing Through the Chaos: Practical Care Giving.




Tandy Elisala Bio Pic

Tandy Elisala Bio Pic

 Tandy Elisala, MA, CPSC, ACT, CHt, TFT-fAlg, is Founder and CEO of Center for Inspiring Greatness.  ™ Tandy is a Care Giving Expert, Certified Professional Success Coach, Author and Consultant. She is certified in various alternative-healing modalities. Tandy has 25 years’ proven experience as a corporate executive, speaker and coach.  Tandy was a full-time caregiver for both parents simultaneously while kicking cancer’s butt a third time and raising three children as a single parent. Tandy lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her three kids, two dogs, and three cats. Tandy’s book, Healing Through the Chaos: Practical Care-Giving is available for pre-order at


© Copyright 2013, Tandy Elisala, and Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline and bio, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Tandy at

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Tandy Elisala

Family Caregiver Coach, Cancer Empowerment Advocate and Chief Inspiration Officer at Center for Inspiring Greatness | Empowered Family Caregiver
Tandy Elisala is passionate about helping family caregivers go from being overwhelmed and stressed to empowered and calm. Tandy went through cancer four times and learned how to heal using conventional, complementary, and alternative therapy. Tandy left her corporate career to take care of both parents simultaneously while raising three kids as a single mom. She took care of both parents for 2 1/2 years until their respective deaths. Tandy now teaches what she learned on her journey. Tandy is a family caregiver coach, a multiple best-selling author, inspirational speaker and mom to three adult kids, one angel dog and one diva cat.

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15 replies
  1. Brenda Adams
    Brenda Adams says:

    Wow, your message around the legacy really resonated with me, as did the more practical examples of how your dad pulled together the details of his life. I would never think to do that. Not only is it helpful logistically but also as a way for children to learn more about their parents.

    Since having my daughter, creating our own family traditions has been exceptionally important to me. And I realize that in that I have not prepared the information I need to for my family. Thank you for this reminder Tandy and for framing it in a way that isn;t just about preparing for tragedy.

  2. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    Such sound advice you have given. There are so many that put off these important activities. My grandfather was a historian. When he passed, he left “the green book.” It outlined his wishes both physically and emotionally. He also had a folder for each of us that shared clippings and stories of growing up that he captured. They are priceless. In addition, he labeled furniture and artwork with family history. I had admired an oil painting in their house while growing up. I received it upon their death. When I saw the label on the back it became even more valuable to me, because I learned my grandma had painted it.

    I’ve taken your POA comments to heart and will review ours.

    • TandyMain
      TandyMain says:

      Stephanie, thanks so much for sharing your experience with your grandfather. Wow. THIS is the way it should be done:-) I’ve heard of labeling items for others. It sure helps take the guesswork out of things, doesn’t it!?! It also eliminates potential conflict among family. If your name is on it, it’s clear what’s yours. Your story about your grandma’s oil painting and how much more special it became when you learned she painted it is so very heart warming. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  3. Carissa Pelletier
    Carissa Pelletier says:

    Great advice! The difficult time after an injury or death could be eased, at least a little, for all of those involved by taking care of these things in advance. Thank you!

    • TandyMain
      TandyMain says:

      Thanks for your comments Carissa. Yes, having these things addressed before you need it lifts things a little bit from a practical standpoint. The other thing it does is minimize potential family conflict about what ‘should’ happen. Lastly, it can bring comfort to families knowing they did everything their loved one wants/wanted. I appreciate you stopping by!!

  4. amar
    amar says:

    thought provoking writing. some of the problems created by our two generations in family disputes are still lingering. i would not want to leave such a legacy for sure 🙂
    thanks for inspiring.

    • TandyMain
      TandyMain says:

      Amar, thanks for stopping by and for your feedback. You have a great point about family disputes getting in the way of leaving such a legacy for future generations to see. Perhaps it’s an opportunity for the two generations to come together and set disputes aside. You are right on though in that I certainly wouldn’t want to leave such a legacy. Not something for others to necessarily continue carrying forward either. Thanks again, Amar. Stop by anytime!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] with them to find out how their stuff supports them. Who knows… you may find some good legacy building stories amid their stuff. I know we sure […]

  2. […] 1. The lessons of your life could shorten the learning curve for someone else. […]

  3. […] or at least it doesn’t have to be. You can use this experience as an opportunity to get closer with  your loved one and do activities together that help bring about love and peace. While your […]

  4. […] Take time together to ask questions about their lives… their regrets, dreams, best memories, etc… I promise you this will be time well spent. Click […]

  5. […] anything in return. You are not after any reciprocation at this point.  A related tip is to ask legacy, goal, bucket list or other appropriate questions to help them see things differently. Click the […]

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