shutterstock_595523990.jpgAccording to data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends about eight hours sleeping, one hour eating and nearly nine hours workings. Less time is spent on household activities (about an hour a day), caring for others (1.2 hours) and leisure and sports (2.6 hours).

Planning their legacies doesn't make the list.

If you're like most people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who are focused on building wealth, you're too busy working to spend a lot of time thinking about what will happen to your assets after you're gone. (And you're probably working a lot more than nine hours a day).

Sure, you have probably invested in whole life insurance, socked away some money in your 401(k), purchased a rental property or hired a financial advisor to help you toss a little money into the stock market.

You've probably thought about retirement but not about your legacy and your family's heritage. In other words, you have a vague idea about how you'll transfer your assets to family after you're finished with them, but you haven't thought about how you'll protect and transfer your family values.

And the sooner you start thinking about your legacy--about heritage planning--the better off you and future generations of your family will be.

Here's a look at three reasons why planning for your legacy as soon as possible is good for you, your family and future generations:

Time is money

Americans understand that time and money go hand-in-hand. That's why they spend more than a third of their day toiling away in the office.

But what most Americans don't realize is that investing more time early on in planning their legacies can make money last a lot longer after it is passed along to loved ones.

The sooner you start working through the elements of heritage planning, the better prepared your family will be to protect and preserve your assets--both financial and value-based--once they have received their inheritances.

Heritage planning includes identifying the next generation of leaders, teaching them how to manage money and lead, facilitating the genuine transfer of leadership and finding roles for all members of the family to play in the current and future success of the unit.

The more time you spend on these elements earlier in your life, the better prepared your family will be to follow in your footsteps and the longer your money will last once it has been passed on to your loved ones.

Successful families take action

If you are waiting for the perfect time to begin the heritage planning process, you're likely going to be waiting forever.

Truth is, successful families take action regardless of what winds of uncertainty are swirling around them. Successful families understand that nothing is gained when it comes to heritage planning by waiting for the economy to improve, one of the kids to be "ready" to start the process or political chaos to calm itself.

As the axiom goes, calm waters do not make skillful sailors.

Overcoming challenges with your family builds leaders, creates unbreakable bonds and teaches lessons about overcoming adversity and valuing each member of the family that will last for generations.

And that is what heritage planning is about.

The time is always right to invest in your family

At the end of the day, heritage planning isn't really about the money. It's about making an investment in your family.

It's about leveraging your resources to build a stronger family unit--one that works well together, enjoys spending time together and shares the values that are most important to you.

That's worth the investment.

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