The Wisdom of Leaving a Video Legacy

Elder Law attorneys are increasingly including video and other forms of tangible legacy as part of the estate plans they prepare.

An estate planner’s office must necessarily be about death, but it should also be about life. In everyone’s lives are personal and extraordinary stories which are there for the telling, and if expressed well, might live long after our lives have ended. Additionally, elders have so much life experience and wisdom to share and pass on, and in many respects, the loss of this precious history may be as tragic as their passing itself. In fact, what goes for our elders is also true for any of us; especially if death occurs prematurely, or even if life continues only marginally, its quality diminished or nearly extinguished due to unfortunate circumstances.

When you sit down to create your estate plan, think not only about how to pass on your assets, but also how to pass on your unique family stories and wisdom. After all, the silver flatware may go back to your great-great grandmother, but the story behind it is what makes it such a valuable family heirloom.

With the easy use and availability of digital video technology, exciting opportunities suddenly exist to document the stories and experiences of loved ones among us, while they still can live and breathe and share. If you or a relative feel that you do not possess the expertise to do this loving task justice, you might consider hiring a documentary filmmaker or skilled videographer and interviewer, to record your loved one’s life stories while you have the chance.

The interview can be as simple as audio taping life experiences and colorful stories. A poignant story comes to mind involving the 12-year-old son of a journalist and filmmaker. This charismatic and engaging boy would visit the elders in a nearby rest home with tape recorder in hand, determined to impress his beloved father with the extraordinary stories he’d recorded. The boy himself was killed tragically at age 13, but the stories he had gathered remained, treasured in their own right as a reminder of the youngster’s remarkable personality.

If funds are available, a competent writer specializing in biographical writing might be hired to create a well-written and engaging account of a wondrous person who once lived, breathed, and was loved. What an extraordinary addition to any estate plan!

Gene Osofsky is an East Bay elder law attorney in California. Gene Osofsky specializes in Medi-Cal planning, wills, probate, trusts, nursing home issues, special needs planning, and disability planning. To learn more about East Bay elder law lawyers, East Bay elder law attorney, Medi-Cal planning, Medi-Cal planning lawyers and The Law Offices of Osofsky & Osofsky, visit

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