As commander of coalition forces during operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, General Norman Schwarzkopf left behind a legacy as a great military commander when he died this December. He also left behind a legacy that can teach us a lot about estate planning, even if we did not serve in the Armed Forces or were not as noteworthy or famous as the late general.
Part of estate planning is not simply making choices about who we leave our money to and how we can best structure our estate to minimize tax exposure, but it’s focused on the broader picture of protecting our legacy and leaving behind a memory of which we would be proud.
When Mr. Schwarzkopf left the Army, he could have taken any number of paths that would have affected his legacy. He could have remained in the public eye, entered into politics, or taken positions that could have impacted his legacy positively or negatively. Instead, General Schwarzkopf chose a mostly private life that was lived outside of the public eye. By maintaining this position and not becoming involved in disputes or political fights, the general’s legacy remained largely intact when he retired soon after leaving the successful Gulf War.
As one of the highest ranking military officers of his time, the general not only had notoriety, but also had access to all the veterans benefits that’s everyone who has served in the Armed Forces can access. Veterans have access to benefits such as aid and assistance, survivor benefits, commissary access, and a range of other programs that can help you now, and help your family after you die.
Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.